Weeknight Cooking

Roasted Cauliflower Brown Rice Risotto with Lemon, Walnut, and Mascarpone

October  2, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves Serves 6 as a first course, 4 as a main course
Author Notes

Roasting cauliflower coaxes out sweet, nutty notes that are nowhere to be found when it's eaten raw. Working from the flavors of roasted cauliflower, I decided to make a risotto. Lately, I have been using short-grain brown rice for risotto; I like the subtle nuttiness it adds, I always have it on hand, and I thought it would complement the cauliflower nicely. I added lemon and walnuts for a bright, slightly bitter contrast, and mascarpone for creamy richness. I did not want the cauliflower to dry out in the oven, so I steamed it in a foil packet first in order to retain moisture. The result is surprisingly delicate and light. —gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

What a sophisticated dish! I took this to the neighbors for a grilled steak dinner and we devoured it. It would be terrific with seafood as well. The nutty notes of roasted cauliflower perfectly compliment the nuttiness of the rice, but it was so creamy and light with the mascarpone and parmesan cheeses and lemon notes. The cauliflower nearly dissolves into the risotto. I had hazelnut oil and hazelnuts and I used them instead of the walnuts. Pecans would have been good too. If you don't have any nuts, or oil, truffle oil would have really been nice. Creamy, lemony, nutty and delicious. Not just dinner party worthy -- restaurant worthy, and very healthy. - Burnt Offerings —Burnt Offerings

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets (save any green leaves! see below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 garlic clove, finely chopped, divided
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cauliflower leaves (thick, fibrous stalks discarded)
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice (I used koshikari - if you use another type of short grain brown rice, it may change cooking timei)
  • 1/3 cup vermouth or cooking sake (in a pinch)
  • 2 generous tablespoons mascarpone or creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Walnut oil, for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted in a 350° F oven for 5 to 7 minutes, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Tear off two approximately 12-inch square pieces of tin foil and set aside on a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss cauliflower florets with a few glugs of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and one finely chopped garlic clove. Lay out cauliflower mixture on one of your tin foil squares in a single layer. Top with second piece of foil and fold up edges on all sides to create a sealed packet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
  3. While cauliflower is roasting, combine chicken stock and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, keeping it on the stove.
  4. Carefully pry off top piece of foil to expose cauliflower (watch out for the hot steam!). Shake tin foil slightly to move pieces around. Roast cauliflower for 6 minutes more, until tender and browned but still moist. Remove pan from oven. When cooled, coarsely chop the cauliflower florets.
  5. Transfer chopped roasted cauliflower to original medium bowl. Add zest from lemon and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Set bowl aside
  6. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and remaining finely chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring. Add cauliflower leaves and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking and stirring until onion softens and begins to become translucent. Stir in rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  7. Stir 1 cup (I use my soup ladle) simmering broth into rice and cook, stirring constantly until absorbed. You want the mixture to be simmering, not boiling, so adjust heat if necessary. Continue cooking and adding broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy about 25-30 minutes. Fold in cauliflower-lemon mixture and stir to combine. Add mascarpone, stirring to combine. Turn off heat. Taste for salt, adding if necessary. Stir in parsley and several grinds of fresh black pepper. If risotto is too thick, thin with a bit of the remaining broth (there will be a little left).
  8. Plate risotto, sprinkling each serving with Parmigiano-Reggiano, a drizzle of walnut oil, and toasted walnuts, serve immediately and enjoy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kou Ishiwata
    Kou Ishiwata
  • Kate
  • healthierkitchen
  • Lucia from Madison
    Lucia from Madison
  • Midge

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

30 Reviews

Kou I. November 28, 2020
This recipe can be an exercise in masochism, if you follow the steps written as is. I used the best Japanese koshi hikari, and after 25 minutes of stirring that broth into the rice, it became painfully apparent that the rice was nowhere near tender. So I experimented and came up with 3 ways of making this recipe do-able:
1) Use regular risotto rice, like arborio.
2) Cook the rice in a rice cooker and stop it 8 minutes before the finish time.
3) Cook it halfway as you would do regular risotto, then pour in the remaining broth, cover, and cook on a small flame without stirring. Check occasionally, to see that the rice isn`t too dry and that you stop it when it`s still creamy.
gingerroot November 28, 2020
Thanks for giving it a try! Your shortcuts/adaptations sound great.
Neeley D. February 16, 2020
I made this last night and it was delicious but I have renamed it "Forever risotto" because it took about two hours to make, over an hour of that was stirring. I also needed a two more cups of liquid than the recipe called for. I used one cup of water then grabbed my better than bullion veggie stock base that I keep in the fridge as back up and made a cup of veggie stock.

I wonder if the rice brands could be that dramatically different? I used Lundeberg's short grain brown rice.

Also thank you to everyone for the comments about the cauliflower needing more cooking time. I roasted then for five more minutes between the foil and it came out perfectly. Though it would be nice to have a weighted measure for the cauliflower. What is a cup of cauliflower can vary depending on how big or small one cuts up the vegetable. I used two small - medium heads. But using cup sizes for this type of ingredient isn't helpful.

In the end it was good, but I don't know if it was worth all that stirring.
gingerroot March 8, 2020
Hey Neeley D., thanks for trying my recipe and providing me with things to consider. I tested this recipe last night after first posting this years ago. I’m guessing the brand of brown rice does matter. I followed the directions and it took 25-30 min to finish the risotto.
shiny May 29, 2018
Great dish, but completely agree with the comments about cooking time for rice and cauliflower. Rice took me 45-50 mins and cauliflower was underdone - could have used another 10-15mins. Other than that it’s lovely!
Kate February 20, 2016
This was delicious -- absolutely loved it. I used sweet vermouth since that's what I had, but I think it would probably be better with dry. And I finished with a squirt of fresh lemon juice for a little extra lemon flavor. However, I also found that the brown rice took much longer to cook, and the cauliflower needs at least another 20-25 minutes to brown after taking off the foil.
karen B. January 13, 2014
...this is a wonderful recipe....I added red pepper flakes to the cauliflower and just a pinch of saffron to the rice.....my only comment is that it is not possible to fully cook brown rice in 25 minutes.....it takes at least 35-40, and more when much of the liquid is evaporated in the cooking process. Nevertheless...this recipe is worth the time. We love risotto and I've been wanting to switch to brown rice for some time...this dish inspired me to finally do it!
gingerroot February 3, 2014
Hi karen,
Somehow I missed your comment, apologies for only replying now. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this, thanks for letting me know!
healthierkitchen April 16, 2011
I've still got this on my list to make soon. Do you think I could use a little preserved Meyer lemon or would it be too strong? I have two quarts and should start using them!
gingerroot April 17, 2011
Hi healthierkitchen! I think a little preserved Meyer lemon would be lovely. Maybe start with a tablespoon or two of rinsed and finely diced rind and instead of mixing it with the cauliflower, stir it in at the end, after the mascarpone (then you can add to taste). Let me know how it turns out!
Lucia F. April 2, 2011
This sounds great! I am bookmarking this and will try it when it warms up outside and my husbands dusts off the grill!
gingerroot April 2, 2011
Thanks so much Lucia! I'd love to hear your thoughts about it when you try it.
Midge October 8, 2010
Sounds great, gingerroot.
Hilarybee October 7, 2010
This looks like the perfect recipe to win favor with a cauliflower hater.
SallyCan October 6, 2010
Nice recipe. Have you tried California Koshihikari Short Grain Rice?
gingerroot October 6, 2010
Thanks, SallyCan. I have tried California Koshihikari - it is delicious. I have bought Tamaki Gold a few times when it was on sale at the Japanese market I shop at. This recipe was made using Sukoyaka Genmai Premium Short Grain Brown Rice.
adamnsvetcooking October 2, 2010
What a creative way of using cauliflower! Great dish :)
gingerroot October 3, 2010
Thanks, adamnsvetcooking!
cbear1984 October 2, 2010
Holy moly, this looks amazing! Just out of curiosity, would using parchment paper in place of the foil change how the cauliflower is cooked? I think I will definitely be trying this in the near future...
gingerroot October 3, 2010
Thanks, cbear1984! I think parchment would work, you would just have to fold down the sides better to create a sealed packet. It also might be a little more tricky to open it up when you want the cauliflower to get some color. With the foil, I did not actually have to take the pan out of the oven, I just pried open the top piece of foil using oven mitts.
TheWimpyVegetarian October 2, 2010
I love this risotto dish! The flavors you have combined here look just wonderful! Saved!
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Thanks so much, ChezSuzanne! I posted this really late last night and realized this morning while at the Farmer's Market that I left out a step. I added it in above. After the roasted cauliflower has cooled, you coarsely chop the florets before transferring to the bowl and adding zest and lemon juice.
Lizthechef October 2, 2010
This looks wonderful - love your flavor combinations.
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Thanks Lizthechef! I feel the same way about your Company Cauliflower Gratin. I would definitely skip dessert for a serving of that!
Sagegreen October 2, 2010
Great idea and flavors!
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Thanks, Sagegreen. Your stroganoff looks amazing!!
mrslarkin October 2, 2010
Great flavors! I love the foil packet idea.
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Thanks, mrslarkin! The cauliflower was tender and moist but will all the goodness that roasting imparts.
healthierkitchen October 2, 2010
This sounds delicous! I haven't made risotto much lately as I've tried to switch to mostly brown rices, so I'm glad to see that it doesn't take too, too long to make a risotto with brown. It's a great choice here as the cauliflower and walnuts complement the nuttier flavor.
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Thanks, healthierkitchen! I think you will enjoy the subtle nuttiness of brown rice risotto. I also like to make mushroom and sausage risotto with brown rice. Just make sure you use a short grain brown rice - I use a Japanese variety.