A classic Italian dish, risotto is made by slowly adding hot broth to a short-grain rice. The process requires patience and lots of stirring, but the end product is decadent and creamy, due in large part to the ample butter and cheese these recipes typically call for. Cutting back on those ingredients can lighten up a risotto, but the result is still starchy and rich, with few nutrients to offer.
To make a healthier “risotto,” I decided to experiment with cauliflower rice. Cauliflower “risottos” have been popping up all over the place over the past year, thanks to trendy cauliflower “rice,” a popular freezer staple you can find now just about anywhere. Initially I was skeptical that cauliflower rice could create a dish that even remotely resembled authentic risotto. But I’m glad I gave cauliflower a shot, because this dish really does rival the real thing. Using cauliflower instead of rice increases this dish’s fiber, and cuts the calorie and carbohydrate content by more than half compared with what you’d find in a typical, traditional risotto.
You can use frozen cauliflower rice for this, as specified in the directions below. Or, you can “rice” frozen cauliflower florets yourself, by thawing them slightly and then chopping them manually, or pulsing them in a food processor.
Cauliflower Parmesan “Risotto”
Cook time: 22 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
- 2 (12-oz) pkg frozen cauliflower rice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add cauliflower rice and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Remove lid and stir. Cook uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes or until there is no more liquid. Stir in butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.
NUTRITION FACTS (per ½ cup): Calories 80; Total Fat 4g (Saturated Fat 1.5g); Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 230mg; Total Carbs 8g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Total Sugars 3g, Added Sugars 3g); Protein 4g.
CAROLYN WILLIAMS, PHD, RD