Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

SonjaMain Courses33 Comments

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto


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!).

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto
Serves: 4
What You Need
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • Fresh ground black pepper
What To Do
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place 6 to 8 cups broth in a medium sauce pan and heat to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.
  3. 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 black pepper. Mix to thoroughly coat. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until tender and browned, stirring once.
  4. Meanwhile, mince 1 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 kosher salt, reduce heat to medium, and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups 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.
  5. Add ½ cup warmed broth to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the 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.
  6. Stir in the roasted cauliflower, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, 4 cups spinach leaves, and 1 cup cooked 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 fresh ground black pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese.

33 Comments on “Roasted Cauliflower Risotto”

    1. Sonja

      Good eye – recipe updated! (Easy to do when you amend your recipe the second time around :) ) Great catch – thank you!!

  1. Jess

    Oh, that is one gorgeous head of cauliflower! I make risotto quite often, but have never tried it with cauliflower – this will have to be next on the list. I love the idea of roasting it first – it makes cauliflower so wonderfully nutty and sweet.

  2. Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    I love roasted cauliflower! I just make a fantastic roasted cauliflower pasta dish the other day, and I can see how the sweet caramel flavour would go well with a risotto. I also love that you’ve added chickpeas into the risotto, making it a complete protein. Such a great recipe! Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Samantha

    Matt made this tonight and it was just as wonderful with regular rice. Delicious and we have leftovers!!

  4. Julia

    Mmmmm, this sounds really good and I actually don’t love cauliflower! So I’m going to give it a chance. Who had the gorgeous purple cauliflower at the market? I must have missed it, though I’m not sure how!

    1. Sonja

      The Amish growers towards the north end of the market had purple cauliflower for the past couple weeks – but I think they went fast :) Let us know if you try out the recipe!

    1. Sonja

      Hi! Yes, the dish looked a bit different with purple cauliflower! We boiled the cauliflower in that version, which ended up with a lighter purple for our dish. I’ve seen some photos of roasted purple cauliflower that make it look much darker. So it would definitely have a different (and much more colorful) look!

  5. sophie

    I cooked this for dinner last night and it was lovely. it was the first time i cooked risotto so i was so glad it turned out nicely. thanks for the recipe :)

    1. Sonja

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear that this worked out for you, and on the first try nonetheless! So happy to hear you enjoyed it :)

  6. Megan | EatsDaily

    Great recipe! I just made it tonight and it was a big hit. I did leave out the chickpeas because I’m not a fan ;)
    You can read about it on my site if you’d like! Thanks again!

  7. Hercheyk

    I made this tonight and loved it! It was my first time making risotto, and your directions were great and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Sonja

      Yes, garlic is a great addition in any dish! We actually found the taste to be quite delicious without it in this risotto; the wine, shallots, and butter were just enough. You’re welcome to add it and I’m sure you’d have great results!

  8. Tim Winn

    This is one of my favorite recipes (I’m sure I say that about all of the recipes). This dish takes a little time but is well worth the wait. I don’t know that I have ever liked cauliflower as much as I do in this dish.

    1. Sonja

      Haha, thanks! You are so fun — I love your enthusiasm for cooking! This is one of our favorites too :) Let us know what else you try!

  9. Cameo

    This sounds absolutely delicious! What, if anything, do you typically serve to accompany risotto? Perhaps a light green salad? I plan to prepare this dish for a small dinner party and would like to add a side or starter. Many thanks!

    1. Sonja

      Yes, a green salad and some crusty bread would be an excellent accompaniment to make this a meal! I suppose you could also start with an appetizer like a creamy soup, bruschetta or fancy plated salad, and then move to the risotto course. I’d probably go for the simple salad and bread myself :)

    2. Heather

      We mad a simple baked chicken to go with this risotto.You can coat chicken breast with breadcrumbs and some parmesan cheese and bake in the oven (time varies depending on thickness of chicken breasts). We roasted the cauliflower first and set it aside, then put the chicken in the oven about halfway through the risotto. The timing worked out great.

  10. Heather

    We made this tonight and it is delicious! It was great to find a recipe for risotto with veggies incorporated. We included 4 cups of spinach and omitted the garbanzo beans. I highly recommend using 4 cups (or maybe 6) of spinach; since it cooks down so much it is not overwhelming at all. Also taste before you add more salt at the end. Our veggie broth was not reduced sodium and between that and the Parmesan cheese, it did not need any extra salt.

  11. Alyssa

    We made this for dinner tonight, and it was AWESOME! We used sherry instead of white wine (that’s what was on hand). Seriously delicious. Will definitely be making again.

  12. vivian

    I made this tonight for dinner. I had an orange cauliflower, and I must say this was one of the prettiest risottos I have ever made. It was delicious too. I think next time (and maybe with the leftovers) I will add a little lemon juice. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Sonja

      That sounds gorgeous! Next time we’re definitely using colorful cauliflower. And good idea with the lemon juice. Thank you for letting us know!

  13. Liz

    This worked a treat for us- we followed the instructions, and enjoyed it immensely. Thank you so much!

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