vegan cauliflower rice risotto (spring)
Risotto was one of the first things I learned how to make when my passion for cooking first began to materialize. Creamy, comforting, savory, and versatile, it has always been one of my favorite foods to eat and prepare for loved ones... In particular, I remember one college evening when I made a big pot for a group of friends using Babybel cheese (yes, the round cheeses that come wrapped in wax)... Perhaps not my most sophisticated of culinary learning moments, but my friends were sweet enough to eat it. This recipe is the much-evolved descendant of my early dairy-laden versions that required close to an hour of constantly stirring sticky, super-high-glycemic white rice. Rather, this VLGL dish is every bit as satisfying and flavorful as traditional risotto, yet packs a strong nutrition punch and comes together in less than half an hour.
In the time that I have practiced a VLGL eating philosophy in the pursuit of healthy skin and overall wellness, riced cauliflower has been a godsend for re-creating my favorite comfort dishes (such as this and this). Its mild natural flavor provides a perfect base to let delicate spring vegetables and a wine-kissed cashew cream shine. In addition having a very low estimated glycemic load, cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and fiber. The cashew cream provides some protein, but feel free to swap out the peas for edamame for a higher protein content!
As you will read below, I actually prefer frozen, pre-riced cauliflower to raw in this dish; I find this yields a creamier texture more quickly, and it also makes cauliflower risotto accessible year-round. Check back in the coming months... I am dreaming up summer, fall, and winter versions!
Also, one last tip: if you or your dining companion has a nut allergy (or you just don't feel like cleaning your blender -- I'm not judging!), I have successfully made this for my mom (who is allergic to cashews) using 1 cup of Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan cheese instead of the cashew cream.
RECIPE: VLGL Cauliflower Rice Risotto, Spring-Style
(serves 2 as a generous main dish; 4-6 as a side)
☼ For the risotto:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups asparagus, woody bottoms snapped off and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 1/2 cups riced cauliflower (preferably frozen, but fresh will work as per the note below)
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine
-*IF USING FRESH CAULIFLOWER: add 1/4 cup mild vegetable broth (and take care with your salt)
- 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 1/8 inch)
- 1 cup lightly cooked English peas (prepare "al dente" by cooking in softly-boiling water for 3-4 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or more or less to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
☼For the cashew cream:
- 1/3 cup water (or a little more if needed to get your blender going)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (soak for at least 3 hours if you have a weak blender)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- juice of half a lemon
- Make the cashew cream by blending all ingredients until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a deep pan or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about two minutes.
- Add the asparagus and sauté until it is bright green and crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes.
- Turn the heat up to high. Add the cauliflower rice, white wine, broth if using, 2 tablespoons of scallions, and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until it is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
- Fold in the peas, basil, and 1/3 cup of scallions, and gently stir for about 2 minutes, until evenly combined and warmed through.
- Fold in the cashew cream, and gently stir until evenly combined and warmed through.
- Finish with black pepper.
Serve with love!