We’ve seen some beautiful colored cauliflower at our farmer’s market this year — purple and bright orange! I was immediately drawn to the purple, with its exotic bright color. As much as we love roasted cauliflower, we couldn’t wait to try something with this beautiful variant.
My first thought was a risotto, that wonderful, creamy traditional Italian rice dish. You can add just about any type of vegetable to the rice, so we thought we’d try cauliflower. Our first attempt didn’t work quite as intended, so we decided to try again — though this time we were out of the purple variety!
We made several changes the second time around, and it worked like a charm! Roasting the cauliflower while the risotto cooks brings out its beautiful flavor. If you’ve never made a risotto and are daunted, never fear – it’s actually quite a simple technique. While it takes around 30 minutes of active time at the stove, it’s absolutely worth it.
The basic technique consists of sauteing minced shallot in butter, adding the rice, cooking it down with a bit of white wine, and then adding warm broth a scoop at a time until the rice soaks up all of the brothy-goodness and becomes creamy and smooth. Add to this the roasted cauliflower, spinach, a bit of chickpeas and some Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got a meal bursting with flavor.
Honestly, shallots + butter + white wine = a bit of heaven. It’s worth opening a bottle of wine for this one (and don’t worry, the alcohol cooks down so all that is left is a beautiful flavor – so it’s kid-approved too!).
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable broth
- 2½ tablespoons butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 to 4 cups spinach leaves
- 1 cup chickpeas
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Place broth in a medium sauce pan and heat to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets (cut off the bottom, then cut the head in half and remove the florets). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the cauliflower in the pan and drizzle on 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Mix with your hands to thoroughly coat. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until tender and browned, stirring once.
- Meanwhile, mince the shallot. Then, in a large heavy-bottomed skillet, pot or Dutch oven, heat 2½ tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Add the shallot and ½ teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ¾ cup white wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, a few minutes.
- At this point, you're ready to start adding the broth. Add ½ cup warmed broth to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Repeat, gradually adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring , until rice is tender but still al dente and sauce is creamy (you may not need all the broth). The process should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Stir in ½ to ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, the roasted cauliflower, 2 to 4 cups spinach leaves, and 1 cup chickpeas. Continue to stir until the spinach is wilted (or turn off the heat and cover the dish for a few minutes). Remove from heat and season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan cheese.