Wednesday 21 March 2012

WHB Cauliflower Risotto and how to avoid dinner

I was intrigued by Mel's Cauliflower Risotto.  I quite like cooking risotto with vegetables in it but have never pureed vegies to stir through a risotto.  Having used cauliflower to make a creamy pasta sauce last year, this idea made sense.  Finding the right moment for risotto was not easy.  One night the arborio rice was infested and another I was just too tired. I had to wait until the stars aligned.

Finally I had an evening with fresh basil from my mum's garden and white wine that E wouldn't touch with a barge pole.  All I needed was rice.  Sylvia helpfully stepped in and suggested her bike ride head to the shops.  Usually we just go around the block or to the park when Sylvia is riding her bike.  I am still getting used to kiddie bike etiquette.  I always lock my bike with a D lock.  Do I lock Sylvia's bike?  Do people steal kids bikes?  We parked her bike by the check-outs with Georgie Pig hiding under a (clean) handkerchief in the basket.  I think I will get a little lock for Sylvia's bike.

It has been some time since I made risotto.  I remembered why as I stirred the rice soaking up the stock.  Risotto is not forgiving of busy people.  It is hard to run around after a small child while trying to frequently stir, keep feeding the rice with stock and stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

The risotto wasn't a quick dish.  When dinner is taking me some time to make, I give Sylvia a plate of vegies, beans and cheese to eat while I cook.  Unfortunately there are many things she would prefer to do rather than eat dinner.  For example:
  • punching holes in an apple with a straw,
  • cleaning the path outside our house with a piece of toilet paper,
  • setting up walls and a door of her house using a pink ribbon, and
  • making spectacles out of erasers and paperclips.

Of course if Sylvia would only try the risotto maybe she wouldn't want to avoid dinner.  E loved it.  He told me so quite a few times.  I had expected it to taste more of cauliflower but I think it was sacrificed for the texture.  It was deliciously creamy.  I served it with tofu bacon because when I first saw Mel's photo I was sure that was what she had used.  (In fact she served hers with olives and sun-dried tomatoes.)

The risotto needed slightly more seasoning but nothing that a drop or two of Worcestershire sauce couldn't fix.  We wondered if lemon juice would work well.  However, as I have learnt the hard way, it is far harder to taste the seasoning of a dish that is just taken off the boil.  The risotto definitely benefited from cooling slightly before serving.

I am sending this risotto to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.  She is this week's host for Weekend Herb Blogging #326,  and the coordinator of this event which was founded by Kalyn.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB St Pat's Day Cabbage and Quicklinks
This time two years ago: Bread pudding and smoothies for vegie kids
This time four years ago: HotM #13 Spring Chocolate Brownies

Cauliflower risotto with tofu bacon
adapted from Veganise This
serves 4-6

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
pinch salt
1/4 tsp stock powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine (I used Riesling)
3 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp salt 
6 cups water
handful of torn basil

To serve:
chopped tofu bacon
Worcestershire sauce
fresh basil

Simmer cauliflower with a pinch of salt in a small amount of water (I think my cauliflower was almost covered by the water) in a small saucepan for about 15 minutes or until it is soft.  Once cooked, drain and keep the cooking water.  Return cooked cauliflower florets and 1/2 a cup of cooking water (or make up that much if you don't have that much) to saucepan with 1/4 tsp stock powder and blend with hand held blender (or use a blender if that is your thing).  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot.  Fry onions for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute.  Add rice and stir for a few minutes until grains well coated and starting to cook (the grains start to look translucent around the edges with a white centre).

While the onions and rice are cooking, bring a kettle of water to the boil.   (Or instead of this and adding stock powder you could heat stock on a saucepan if you preferred but I find using a kettle of boiling water easier).  Add the wine, stock powder and salt (maybe even more salt) to the onion and rice mixture and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of boiling water at a time, stirring frequently and adding more when most of the water is absorbed.  I used about 6 cups of water.

Add cauliflower and basil.  Stir for a few more minutes - just enough to heat up.  Check seasoning.  Cool slightly if you have time before serving.  Serve with a generous sprinkle of tofu bacon bits for textural contrast, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce if desired and scatter with basil leaves for colour and freshness.

On the stereo:
Discography: Pet Shop Boys


  1. People DEFINITELY steal kids' bikes so you should DEFINITELY lock it up!

    I love the idea of creamifying risotto with cauliflower instead of cream! So delicious.

    1. Thanks Joanne - you sound like the voice of experience with kids bikes - I've had very little to do with them recently - but in the town where I grew up I don't think we would have heard of locking up our bikes

  2. That sounds really lovely. I love risotto, but it is a pain to stir all the time. I often put veggies in the risotto and then add them at the end too - grated courgette plus fried at the end, or pureed squash and roasted squash at the end. The pureed squash turns it a lovely colour! I like the idea of the tofu bacon to add texture and protein too.

    I'd buy a lock for Sylvia's bike - better safe than sorry.

    1. Thanks C - it is a pain to stir risotto when you have other things going on - I have thought of looking out a baked risotto recipe - I like the idea of adding veg in two ways - probably some fried cauli florets at the end would be great - maybe even fried with the tofu bacon

  3. Sylvia never fails to keep me entertained :)

    I am intrigued by this risotto and remember noting it on Mel's blog too. I have wondered if I would like the 'creaminess', given my cheese dislike, but there is of course only one way to find out. I did smile at your mistaken belief that tofu bacon was included in Mel's verison - perhaps a subconscious desire to just make sure that tofu bacon made it into yours? ;)

    1. Thanks Kari - I am not really into creamy dishes and yet I love the creaminess of risotto - it is is not the heavy cheesy creaminess but just a nice texture that works with the rice!

      My mistake in thinking Mel's risotto had tofu bacon amused me too. I think I would like to try the sun dried tomatoes that mel used but maybe not the olives but I have since realised that Mel has used tofu bacon in both cauli soup and cauli pasta so maybe this is also why I made the mistake when I saw it

  4. I'm so glad that you and also E enjoyed this! I love the idea of topping it with tofu bacon, I'll definitely give it a try next time I make it. Risotto can be a bit of a chore to prepare, it's not something I make often as my young man doesn't like it much.

    I loved reading about Sylvia's activities too!

    1. Thanks Mel - both E and I love risotto - every now and again he suggests it when I am lacking in ideas - I think it becomes even more of a treat because I don't make it so often - but sylvia still doesn't like it - though I hope she might come around

  5. It sounds like a great wintry dish! I love risottos and the like when it's cold outside :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - risotto does stick to the ribs so it is great for cold weather

  6. I make a pumpkin risotto where you cook the rice by stirring through a stock-pumpkin-puree mixture, but I've not tried that technique with another vegetble. Lovely idea for my beloved cauliflower!

    1. Thanks Hannah - I love pumpkin risotto but always chuck in chunks of uncooked pumpkin and by the end a lot have dissolved into the risotto but some are in chunks still - never tried it with a puree but sounds intersting

  7. I was worried you were going to say her bike was stolen.

    Love the sounds of this, especially with tofu bacon.

    1. Thanks K - I kept an eye on the bike while we were in the supermarket - am sure you would enjoy this

  8. "Punching holes in an apple with a straw" - Sylvie has the makings of a pomander crafter; just a matter of time before she is puncturing oranges with cloves. ; )

    Hope all is well, Johanna. Congrats on your recent MLLA winning. I'll be contacting you soon to arrange delivery.

    1. Thanks Susan - I would love to make a pomander - maybe sylvia and I will get into them one of these days - she is quite into craft now - am v excited about the MLLA prize - thanks so much

  9. Ooo fun I've never seen risotto made with cauliflower, what a neat idea. Love that you topped it with tofu bacon too. :)

    1. Thanks Ashley - I've never made a cauli risotto before so was very pleased with this idea too

  10. LOL - I can see why Sylvia is too busy to eat her dinner. This risotto looks delish, but you are right, it takes forever to make.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - it is amazing the ways sylvia will avoid dinner but at least she amuses us in the process

  11. Johanna, this looks like a great recipe.. I love cauliflower but don't use it too much. Funny how it gets hidden here, but what a great idea for making it creamy. :)

  12. What a brilliant idea! I love cauliflower, and adding it to the risotto sounds delicious. And certainly makes the dish look lovely! Now if only I could get the HH to clean our driveway with toilet paper. . . !! :D


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