If you have to avoid rice on a grain-free or a paleo-style diet, one of the dishes you will undoubtedly miss is a hearty, velvety risotto. It’s a popular dish to make at home because it’s budget friendly, easy and super tasty. With this recipe, I am making a grain-free risotto using cauliflower ‘rice’ and other finely diced vegetables instead of arborio white rice.
This dish has a soupy yet thick and creamy consistency – similar to risotto – and fantastic texture. The key is to dice the vegetables into very small cubes, resembling the rice kernels.
To thicken the sauce I used these methods: liquid reduction, a little bit of tapioca or arrowroot flour mixed with water, and some Parmesan cheese to bind it all together. Add to that a spoonful of grass-fed butter and you end up with a delicious, thick, glossy cauliflower risotto.
Macadamia nut butter adds extra crunch and a really nice, earthy flavour. You can use other nuts like walnuts or almonds instead.
For dairy-free version: leave the cheese out (although aged Parmesan cheese is not a bad dairy option as most of the lactose is reduced during the fermentation process) and feel free to add some nutritional yeast flakes for that cheesy, umami flavour. You can also add some cashew or almond butter to thicken the sauce, or even an egg yolk. Use ghee instead of butter, as it’s almost entirely free of any milk solids and is usually okay for those avoiding dairy.
This dish can be eaten on its own or as a side. It’s primal, grain-free and low-carb and can be made without dairy, if you must.
- 1/2 medium white onion finely diced
- 2 large garlic cloves finely diced
- 2 cups cauliflower super finely diced
- 3/4 cup carrot 1 small carrot, super finely diced
- 1 cup zucchini 1 medium zucchini without the seeded core, super finely diced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot flour mixed with 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- Ground black pepper
For Macadamia burnt butter
- 10 macadamia nuts smashed or ground into crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter organic or grass-fed, if possible
- 1/2 garlic clove finely diced
- A pinch of salt
- There are two stages in this recipe: cooking the ‘risotto’ and making the burnt butter. Read the full instructions first and try to follow the order to get the timing right.
- Prepare the onion, garlic, vegetables and Parmesan cheese (if using).
- Place macadamia nuts in a small plastic bag, lay it on a chopping board under a tea towel and give it a good smack with a rolling pin, until the nuts are crushed into little crumbs. You can also use a food processor for this.
- Heat a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions, and gently sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring a few times.
- Add white wine to the pan and bring the heat to high. Let the mixture bubble away for about a minute and a half, then add the vegetable stock, stir through and cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat.
- In the meantime, make the macadamia burnt butter. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the macadamia crumbs and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds, until lightly toasted. Add the butter, garlic and a pinch of salt. Let the butter melt in and once it starts to bubble, take the pan off the heat and put aside.
- Add the diced cauliflower and carrots to the risotto stock. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini and stir through. Dissolve the tapioca or arrowroot flour in a little hot water and whisk through. Add to the risotto and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir altogether until the cheese is melted in and the mixture is thickened into a creamy, risotto texture. It won't be as starchy and sticky as a normal risotto but should be pretty close.
- Serve in bowls drizzled with the macadamia burnt butter mix and ground black pepper, plus extra Parmesan cheese, if you like.