Recently, I stumbled across the idea of Cauliflower “Rice” on a Paleo / Primal Diet blog. Smitten by this idea for incorporating even more veggies into my dinner (and sneaking cauliflower in on my husband, hehe), I went with it. My first attempt was this Cauliflower “Risotto,” which amazingly turned out awesome right out of the shoot!
I have since made it a few times with the nod of approval from my usually cauliflower-hating husband. I have also made some basic cauliflower “rice” to serve as the base under stir-fries. It has worked out well, but my husband agreed that the risotto is just better.
Another Bonus: Surprisingly, a large head of cauliflower only makes about 3 to 4 healthy servings. When grated, the cauliflower seemed much less overwhelming than eating large florets.
Cauliflower “Risotto” with Fresh Basil (Grain-Free AND Dairy-Free)
This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Soy-Free, and Sugar-Free.
I like to use just a bit of nutritional yeast, but keep the amounts moderate so that it enhances the meal without creating an overpowering fake cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast can easily be found online and in the bulk bins of some natural food stores. Make sure it is specifically called “nutritional yeast;” brewer’s (which the grocery attendants will try to hand to you) is not the same thing. If you don’t have any on hand, try this recipe without it, I am sure it will still be quite yummy!
- 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts (about 1 ounce)
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- ½ Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
- 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Olive, or Coconut Oil
- ½ Cup Minced or Diced Onion
- 3 Cups Grated Cauliflower (about ½ medium to large head – if you have a food processor, you are golden; I grated by hand)
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced
- ¼ Cup Broth (chicken or vegetarian)
- Chiffonade 6 to 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
- Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste (optional)
Combine the nuts, nutritional yeast, and salt in your spice grinder, and give it a few pulses. The nuts should grind up, and begin to clump. It is best if it stays a bit powdery and doesn’t turn into a paste, but if it does, no loss. Set aside while you cook the cauliflower.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the grated cauliflower and continue to sauté / stir-fry for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and suate for 1 minute more. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, stir, cover and allow it to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. This cooks it to the perfect “al dente” consistency for us, but feel free to cook it to your desired tenderness.
Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and stir in the reserved nut mixture. It may clump a bit, but continuing to stir it in the hot pan will help it to distribute and become creamy. Stir in the basil and fresh ground pepper to taste, if using. Serve.
Yields about 2 side servings
No Onion? I ran out of onion the second time I made this dish, so I skipped the onion sauté, but added ¼ teaspoon of onion powder to the nut mixture. The fresh onion was better, but this was still tasty in a pinch!
To Serve: This versatile dish can be served with a salad or steamed veggies (broccoli or asparagus would be nice) to keep it light and vegetarian. For an omnivorous meal, we found it went quite well with baked chicken, and also made a quick lunch with leftover chopped chicken added.
Lower Fat Option: I haven’t tried this as of yet, but I think this would work with just 2 teaspoons of oil if you were trying to go lower in fat. I would just sauté the onions in the oil, add the cauliflower and sauté for just 1 minute, and then add the broth and cover. Cook until it reaches your desired tenderness. You may need to use a touch more broth. Don’t skip the pine nuts though; they add richness and nutrition!
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