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Cauliflower Risotto

Updated May 04, 2016
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Cauliflower Risotto
This image courtesy of David Loftus

This is an absolutely delicious recipe. It’s quite unusual, and the best thing about it is that it makes a hero of the much-underloved everyday cauliflower. If you’re down at the farmers’ market, or at the supermarket, have a look around for a Romanesco cauliflower – it’s a similar size to a normal cauliflower but spiky and green. It also has a delicious flavour. The reason I love this dish is because it takes some all-time classic ingredients and puts them together in a great way. In Britain we normally eat cauliflower baked with cheese, and in Italy it is baked as a parmigiana with cream, cheese and anchovies. All these flavours are in this risotto, with the added bonus of really crunchy chilli pangrattato sprinkled on top – it gives an amazing kick.

Serves6

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Moodblue

Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, crunchy, garlicky, rich, savory, spiced, umami, winey

Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls of stale bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 small tin of anchovies, oil from tin reserved
  • 3 small dried red chillies
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 x Risotto Bianco (below)
  • A handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating
  • 2 pints stock (chicken, fish, or vegetable, as appropriate)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A dallop of butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ a head of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups risotto/Arborio rice
  • 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Whiz the bread in a food processor with the anchovies, the oil from the tin and the chillies. Heat a frying pan with a splash of oil and fry the flavoured breadcrumbs, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown.

Trim the coarse leaves off the cauliflower and cut out the stalk. Chop the nice inner part of the stalk finely. Start making your Risotto Bianco, adding the chopped cauliflower stalk to the pan with the onion and celery at Stage 1. Add the cauliflower florets to your pan of hot stock.

Continue to follow the basic risotto recipe, adding the stock bit by bit until the rice is half cooked. By now the cauliflower florets should be quite soft, so you can start to add them to the risotto with the stock, crushing them into the rice as you go. Continue until the rice is cooked and all the cauliflower has been added.

At Stage 4, when you add the butter and Parmesan, stir in the parsley, taste and season.

Sprinkle with the anchovy pangrattato, grate some more Parmesan over the top and serve.

So, so good!

For the Risotto Bianco:

Stage 1: Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan, add the onion, garlic, and celery, and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. This is called a soffrito. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

Stage 2: The rice will now begin to slightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring—it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavors will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while it retains its beautiful texture.

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