Cauliflower Rice Risotto Recipe

Risotto is one of the world's most satisfying comfort foods. Creamy and spoonable but with a satisfying bite, it's the perfect backdrop for just about anything. But today, we've got our sights set on fresh asparagus spears and umami-rich mushrooms. Thanks to recipe developer and wellness coach Miriam Hahn, we're going to up the veggie count by using cauliflower rather than arborio rice. Hahn's recipe for cauliflower rice risotto not only transforms cauliflower rice seamlessly into risotto, but it also cuts down on your cooking time. As Hahn explains, cauliflower rice doesn't need as much time to break down as grain-based rice. 

"I love so many things about this recipe!" Hahn tells Tasting Table. "It is very versatile, great for a weeknight side or elegant enough to serve for the holidays. You can make it ahead and reheat [it], making it super convenient for entertaining. Also, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable [that] is full of sulforaphane, a natural plant compound known to prevent cancer." Since cauliflower is so healthy on its own, you could even forego the mushrooms and asparagus and let the "cheesy", nutty flavor of the risotto be the main focus. As for why cheese is in quotes, Hahn uses no cheese to make this delectably creamy risotto. How does she do that? You'll have to read on.

Gather your ingredients for this cauliflower rice risotto

Let's start by gathering the ingredients for Hahn's cauliflower rice risotto recipe. First, you'll need one head of cauliflower or one bag of cauliflower rice (preferably not frozen, but if that's all you've got, Hahn offers a workaround below). You'll also need 2 tablespoons of butter (a vegan substitute is fine too — Hahn recommends Earth Balance), ¼ cup of diced onion, 2 cloves of garlic, minced, 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, and 1 cup of asparagus pieces (1 to 2 inches in length). 

As for the moisture and extra flavor, you'll need ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (although you'll probably want to have the whole can handy in case you need to moisten the risotto at any time), 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of garlic granules (or garlic powder, if you can't find the granules), ½ teaspoon of pepper, and ¼ cup of roughly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish.

Start by prepping the cauliflower

As Hahn notes, pre-riced cauliflower is fine to use and it's probably the right choice if you don't have a food processor. The one caveat is that frozen pre-riced cauliflower must be defrosted in a strainer to remove excess water, and it also helps to squeeze out any remaining liquid between paper towels. If you have a food processor and you'd like to rice the cauliflower yourself, cut the head into smaller florets and use the grating blade. 

If you're new to working with a whole cauliflower, Hahn offers the following guidance: "I usually flip it over so the stem is face up. Then I slice it in half. I take each half and cut a triangle shape around the core to remove it. Then I just break apart the florets over the sink (because it does get everywhere) and place them in a strainer to wash." Then, simply chop them as needed until they fit into your food processor.

Follow up with a simple sauté

Grab yourself a large frying pan or skillet and place it on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt. As noted above, vegan butter is fine as long as whatever you're using melts like actual butter. Then, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and asparagus. Cook while stirring frequently for 5 minutes, then add the cauliflower rice, mixing to combine.

Here's where you're going to develop that cheesy, nutty flavor

After adding in the cauliflower, stir in the coconut milk, garlic granules, salt, pepper, and the nutritional yeast. Dairy-free and vegan, "nutritional yeast is a really good ingredient when you want a light cheesy flavor with some nutrition," Hahn explains to Tasting Table. "It is a deactivated yeast full of B vitamins and protein." Of course, if you want to swap it out for Parmesan cheese, that's fine too, according to Hahn. Whichever you're using, reduce the heat to medium-low for 2 minutes and let the contents warm through. If at any time, you feel the mixture is a little dry, add some more coconut milk to simmer.

Serving suggestions for cauliflower rice risotto

When the cauliflower rice risotto has warmed through, transfer it to a serving dish and top it off with roughly chopped fresh parsley. As noted above, this dish makes a great backdrop for many meals, and Hahn loves serving it as a side with meat, fish, and even sandwiches. She adds that it works really well as a meal prep option to serve all week with lunches and dinners. If you have any leftovers, the risotto reheats well and lasts for a week, according to Hahn. Plus, she notes that the flavors only get better as they spend more time sitting together.  

Cauliflower Rice Risotto Recipe
5 from 41 ratings
This delicious cauliflower rice risotto is packed with flavor and healthy nutrients. Enjoy it as a main dish or serve it alongside your favorite protein.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
7
minutes
Servings
5
Servings
bowls of cauliflower rice risotto
Total time: 17 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower or 1 (12-ounce) bag cauliflower rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or vegan substitute)
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (plus more if your mixture gets dry)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules (or garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup parsley for topping
Directions
  1. If you are using a whole cauliflower head, cut it into small florets, then use the grating blade on your food processor to rice it.
  2. Add the butter to a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. When the butter melts, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and asparagus and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the cauliflower rice and stir to combine.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, salt, garlic granules, pepper, and nutritional yeast.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low for 2 minutes so everything is warmed through. (If at any time, you feel the mixture is dry, add a little more coconut milk, leaving it to simmer.)
  7. Transfer the cauliflower rice risotto to a serving dish and top it with fresh parsley to serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 141
Total Fat 10.0 g
Saturated Fat 7.4 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 12.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 10.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.2 g
Total Sugars 3.7 g
Sodium 481.2 mg
Protein 6.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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