We’re seven days into our month away in Austin. So far, our daily routine has been moving at a more relaxed pace. I love it. Cookie and I are soaking up the sunshine and enjoying our walks around our eclectic neighborhood. I’ve learned how to get to the grocery store and Jeanine and Jack‘s place without the help of my phone, so I think I’m pretty much set! I’m going to do my best not to talk about this city non-stop for the next few weeks, but needless to say, I’m inspired.
This risotto is a riff on my mushroom risotto, which is one of my favorites. I used the same cooking method, which requires only minimal stirring. Brown rice offers more nutrients and fiber than white rice and offers more flavor (the more flavor, the better!). Both the rice and the cauliflower bake in the oven at the same time, so you’ll have plenty of downtime to sip on leftover white wine while you wait.
I know there are still plenty of cauliflower haters out there. Ali is one of them and she even liked this lemony risotto! Roasted cauliflower is really another animal. When it’s properly roasted, it’s tender on the inside, crispy on the edges and nutty in flavor. It really shines in this peppery, lemony, texture-rich risotto.
In my mushroom risotto post, I mentioned that I had some ideas for how to make my risotto vegan. My big idea was to add a touch of white miso to make up for the umami flavor of Parmesan, but I tried it and it just tasted funny to me. However! The starch in the short-grain rice is responsible for most of the risotto’s creaminess, so you could skip the Parmesan and add a vegan butter substitute or some extra olive oil in place of the butter. Vegans, please let me know if you give it a try!
Le Creuset Cast Iron 3 1/2-Quart Round French Oven
▸ For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my healthy kitchen!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 5 cups (40 ounces) vegetable broth, divided (if your broth comes in 32-ounce containers, feel free to avoid opening another container by substituting 1 cup water for 1 cup broth in step 3)
- 1½ cups brown arborio/short-grain brown rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head of cauliflower, sliced into florets
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup dry white wine, optional
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon, preferably organic (about ¼ teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoon juice)
- Garnish: ¼ cup sliced almonds or a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems and larger leaves torn into small pieces
- Place your oven racks in the lower third and upper third positions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add 4 cups broth (or 3 cups broth and 1 cup water), cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake on the lower rack until rice is tender and cooked through, about 65 to 70 minutes. It will seem pretty dry when you take off the lid, but don't worry!
- Immediately afterward, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil on your lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and some freshly ground black pepper and arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on the pan. Roast on the upper rack until the florets are tender and the edges are deeply caramelized, tossing halfway. This took the full hour for me, but start checking the cauliflower for doneness around 40 minutes.
- In the meantime, toast your almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and turning lightly golden on the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Pour in the remaining cup of broth, the Parmesan, wine and butter. Stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Stir in the salt, a generous amount of pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice.
- Section off one-fourth of the cauliflower to use as a garnish. Chop any large remaining pieces of cauliflower into more bite-sized pieces before transferring three-fourths of the cauliflower to your pot of risotto. Stir in the cauliflower. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice as needed.
- Divide the risotto into bowls and top with the remaining roasted cauliflower and a sprinkling of toasted almonds or fresh thyme.
*Make it nut free: Skip the almonds. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves instead.
Storage suggestions: This risotto keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days.
Change it up: Feel free to substitute any prepared vegetables for the mushrooms!
If you must use white arborio rice: Bake it for 40 to 45 minutes, until tender to the bite, and proceed as directed.