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Mendo Lake Family Life

Make a Dreamy Creamy Side

When you take your first bite of this ultra-dreamy rice dish, you’ll be convinced that it is laden with cream and butter. In actuality, that richness comes from extra-starchy Arborio rice, a staple for making risotto (and don’t fret, it’s easily found at your market). The more you stir this special rice, the more the starch releases, making it creamier and creamier on the outside while still staying tender yet firm on the inside—it’s what comfort-food dreams are made of. Add some cauliflower rice, which blends in perfectly because of its similar firm-tender bite, and you’ll officially be on cloud nine.

Cauliflower Chive Risotto

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), finely chopped (1½ cups)

3 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt

1 cup Arborio rice

2 cups cauliflower rice, fresh or frozen (6 ounces; see Notes)

Ground black pepper

1¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese
(5 ounces)

¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives + more for a garnish

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Warm the stock in a small saucepan over low heat. While it warms, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt to the oil in the skillet and cook until the onion is soft and translucent—about 5 minutes. Add the Arborio rice to the onion in the skillet and continue cooking until the rice is just toasted—about 5 minutes more.

2. Gradually add the warmed stock to the vegetable and rice mixture, ½ cup at a time, stirring often and waiting until it is fully absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is just tender, but still shy of al dente—15 to 20 minutes. If at any point you run out of stock, you can use water.

3. Stir in the cauliflower rice, ½ cup more stock (or water, if needed), another ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the cauliflower is tender and the rice is al dente—10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add the Parmesan, chives, and red pepper flakes (if desired). Continue to cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well combined. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If your risotto thickens too much as you prepare to serve it, add a splash more stock or water. Garnish with chives and a sprinkle of black pepper, and enjoy!

Makes 4 cups. Serves 4.


* Got some wine on hand? After the rice is toasted at the end of Step 1, add ½ cup white wine (a traditional ingredient in risotto) and cook until it is absorbed by the rice. Then continue on with Steps 2 and 3, adding the stock, cauliflower rice, and so on. Get ready for a great flavor boost!

* To make homemade cauliflower rice, process half of a small head of cauliflower (9 ounces). That should give you the 2 cups you need for this recipe.

Reprinted, with permission, from More Veggies Please! by Nikki Dinki, photos by Andreana Bitsis (BenBella Books).

Nikki Dinki is a chef, author, mom, and TV host. Flip through her award-winning first book, Meat on the Side, and follow her food-driven adventures on multiple Food Network and Cooking Channel series. She also candidly reveals her successes and struggles raising three kids (including a set of twins!) and offers up more tasty veggie-focused recipes on social media and