Cauliflower Risotto gets a thumbs up from everyone! It's easier to make (and more delicious!) than you might think. Plus, while no risotto is "diet food", this is as close to a "low carb" and "diet risotto" as we'll get. The creamy but low-calorie cauliflower makes up so much of the volume. This is my go-to recipe for risotto! Every fall, it calls to me!
"... soooo delicious. ... I had to keep myself from gobbling the ENTIRE DISH in one sitting! " ~ ShinyLightDesigns
"... yum yum yum!" ~ Mia
"I actually made it twice this week! It is my first experience making risotto." ~ Jessica
Even adventurous home cooks return repeatedly to favorite recipes, bypassing new ones that at first seem appealing but then get dismissed as too something: insert "weird" or "complicated" or "exotic" though what we really mean is "too unfamiliar".
For years, so it’s been for risotto and me. I saved it for special occasions when someone else could man the spoon and somehow never once made it myself.
No more! Since last spring, I’ve made risotto two or three times a month in four different kitchens. On trips, I tuck Arborio rice into my suitcase, just in case I get a turn at the stove.
This creamy leek and cauliflower risotto gets thumbs ups from everyone, men, women, even kids. Served with a big salad, it’s an easy and inexpensive main dish but I like to serve it on the side with grilled shrimp or steak. Risotto does take nearly constant attention, although between stirs, there’s plenty of time to make the salad, set the table and sip a glass of wine.
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 4 cups, easy to double
- Big pot of salted water
- 1 large leek, trimmed & cleaned (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
- 1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 pound) cored, cut in florets
- 2-1/2 cups chicken stock (see TIPS)
- 2 slices bacon, chopped (or 2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter)
- 1/2 cup (90g) Arborio rice
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan or gruyere (from about 2 square inches)
- Fresh herbs chopped fine - dill, oregano, rosemary, other herbs
PAR-COOK (PARTIALLY COOK) THE LEEK AND CAULIFLOWER Bring the water to a boil. Drop the leek and cauliflower into the boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes, then drain. Cut the leek into half rings, the big cauliflower florets into smaller cauliflower florets.
BRING THE STOCK TO A BOIL Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring the stock to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer. You want the stock to stay hot!
COOK THE BACON Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet large enough to be your risotto-cooking skillet, cook the bacon until crisp on medium heat. Lift the bacon onto a plate to cool, leaving the bacon fat in skillet.
FINALLY, LET'S MAKE RISOTTO! Stir the leek and cauliflower into the bacon fat, let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the rice, turning it several times to coat with fat.
STIR.STIR.STIR. First trick! From here on, you'll need to stir almost continuously, that means "without interruption" so no leaving the stove, okay? Use a wooden spoon or a spatula, it's fine to stir slowly, you just don't want the rice or cauliflower to stick to the bottom of the skillet.
SLOWLY.SLOWLY.SLOWLY. Second trick! Add the hot stock to the rice but only a half cup at a time. Stir in each half cup, letting the rice absorb that liquid, before adding another half cup. As the mixture cooks, use the spoon to break the cauliflower into smaller and smaller pieces, it'll become almost invisible. Take your time during this step, relax, sip a little wine, just enjoy the moment in the kitchen. But stir!
SALT.SALT.SALT. Third trick! Before adding each new half cup of stock, take a little taste, add a little salt to taste. Especially if you use homemade chicken stock, you'll add quite a bit. Remember, you're seasoning the rice, the cauliflower and the stock, it's okay to be generous!
WHEN IS THE RISOTTO DONE? The risotto is done when the rice is tender and creamy looking.
GARNISH, SEASON, SERVE & SAVOR Stir in the cheese, cooked bacon and herbs, then taste and adjust the seasoning one last time. Serve while hot!
A Perfect Balance Rice:Cauliflower
I'm always tempted to double the cauliflower. But don't! Cauliflower Risotto's proportion of rice:cauliflower and even rice:cauliflower:cheese is just right!
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