I’ve cut down on my meat lately for no other reason that I’ve wanted to delve into vegetarian dishes, make delicious food that don’t rely on a slab of pork, beef, chicken or fish. As most people know good vegetarian meals require a careful balance of ingredients as it simply isn’t good enough to make a dish ‘without meat’. With that in mind I’ve been cooking alot of pulses and keeping an eye out for some good risotto dishes.
I adore risotto, I love making it, giving attention to it, the rich comforting taste of it. And this cauliflower risotto is fantastic. Cauliflower. Most people baulk at it. But add in some chillies, lemon zest and anchovies (I know, I know, it isn’t quite a vegetarian dish…but there you go) and you have yourself a tasty supper.
This recipe is a riff on a Jamie Oliver dish that’s made with a pangrattato – which translates from Italian as grated bread but is often known to as the poor man’s Parmesan – that’s made with stale bread, and lightly toasted in in olive oil, herbs and seasonings and gives a remarkable texture and complex flavour to pasta or rice without the expense of Parmesan. Oliver uses anchovies and chillies in his. I don’t make it at all rather I mix the anchovies, chillies and lemon zest together and mix them in at the end with the parsley.
Ingredients (serves 3)
240 g arborio rice
750 ml homemade chicken stock
1 red onion, finely chopped
small glass of white wine (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small tin of anchovies (3 each), oil reserved
1 red chilli
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a goog knob of butter
Big handful chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper
80 g Parmesan cheese, grated and more for serving
Trim the coarse leaves off the cauliflower and cut out the stalk. Chop the nice inner part of the stalk finely and set aside. Finely chop your anchovies, chilli and mix with lemon zest, some of the chopped parsley and a little olive oil in a small bowl.
Heat the stock and add the cauliflower florets to your pan of hot stock. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic, and chopped cauliflower stalk and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring.
Once the wine has cooked into the rice, and the harsh alcohol smell has gone, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring to work the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. By the time the rice is half-cooked, the cauliflower florets should be quite soft, so you can start to add them to the risotto with the stock, crushing them into the rice as you go.
Continue until the rice is cooked and all the cauliflower has been added. Taste the rice, if it isn’t done keep on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Once the rice is done remove from the heat and add your anchovy paste and mix well. Then chuck in the butter and Parmesan and stir in the remaining parsley. Taste and season. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes really creamy and oozy.
Ladle into bowls and finish off with more Parmesan . Simple, delicious and a wonderful way to use the humble cauliflower.