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
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves Serves 6 as a first course, 4 as a main course
cauliflower florets (save any green leaves! see below)
Extra-virgin olive oil
garlic clove, finely chopped, divided
3 1/2 cups
finely chopped sweet onion
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)
vermouth or cooking sake (in a pinch)
generous tablespoons mascarpone or creme fraiche
finely chopped Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Walnut oil, for drizzling
walnuts, lightly toasted in a 350° F oven for 5 to 7 minutes, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Tear off two approximately 12-inch square pieces of tin foil and set aside on a baking sheet.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer chopped roasted cauliflower to original medium bowl. Add zest from lemon and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Set bowl aside
- 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.
- 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).
- Plate risotto, sprinkling each serving with Parmigiano-Reggiano, a drizzle of walnut oil, and toasted walnuts, serve immediately and enjoy.