I used to love the rich, intense flavored Italian risotto. Being privileged to taste it in Italy, in Portofino, Milan and Taormina, I understood all about its secrets and I recreated it back home, using the key ingredients: parmigiano, butter, good quality wine.
With time I realized the good feeling that eating a risotto gave me was only when it was paired with the traditional decor of an Italian trattoria, on one of their sea-view terraces or in a Dome market. It was all about holidays. Having risotto at home, loaded with all that parmigiano and animal fat simply turned my digestion upside down. Although I knew it’s going to be impossible to recreate the taste in a healthy, vegan dish, I started to make researches and experiments until I discovered the amazing versatility of cauliflower. Cauliflower in risotto? Yes, please!
Cauliflower found its way back to my diet after I learned about its fantastic nutritional load. This humble vegetable is blessed with the exceptional health benefits that its popular cruciferous relatives (kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage). The main benefit of cauliflower is the big amount of antioxidants with implication in stimulating the natural detoxification process in our bodies. The phytonutrients in cauliflower (glucosinolates) activate the detox enzymes and intensify their activity.
The antioxidants in cauliflower are also involved in preventing some types of cancer, especially colon, breast and ovarian cancer, especially because their action as natural detox agents, but also because their action is jointed with the vitamins contained in cauliflower (especially vitamin C) which help our bodies reducing the oxidative stress and fighting against free radicals.
White rice is long gone from my pantry, and although I love brown rice, it doesn’t have the creamy texture that a processed one gives to a risotto. Cauliflower does this. I used to hate cauliflower when I was little, and this didn’t change until a few years ago, when I read about its fantastic effects on our health. This was the time when I decided to give it a chance and started to experiment with it.
Ever since I used it for roasting, in cream soups, in raw salads or even pickles. But the real revelation was when I first used it to replace white rice. The process is so simple, yet so delicious, as the cauliflower perfectly absorbs all the flavors and makes such a healthy replacement for rice.
- 1 big cauliflower head
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ cup beet root, cooked
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- Cut the cauliflower head in florets and rinse abundantly with water.
- Drain well and transfer into the food processor (you might need to do this in batches).
- Pulse to obtain a rice texture (make sure you don't overprocess it).
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic, a fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower , add the vegetable broth an nutritional yeast and cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.
- Place the cooked beet roots in the food processor and pulse to obtain a fine puree.
- Add the beet puree to the cauliflower, stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm, garnished with fresh parsley.
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