Cauliflower ‘Risotto’ with Cashew ‘Cream’ by Foodie’s Markets Chef Laura Brennan
May 17, 2018
Cauliflower processed into small pieces to resemble rice kernels is very popular on modern menus and in food articles. The cauliflower is slow cooked in liquid on the stove-top, as is risotto, but with less carbohydrates and calories that true rice would provide.
Cashew Cream? Toasted or raw (both unsalted) cashews are soaked overnight in cold water, drained and pureed to a thick, ‘creamy’ consistency and folded into the finished dish. Just like adding crème fraiche or sour cream to a dish; that is, folded in at the end and off the heat. The cashews add a richness mimicking dairy fat but without the saturated fat.
- Prep: 40 mins
- Cook: 20 mins
- Yields: 4 to 6 servings
10 to 12 ounces unsalted cashews, raw or toasted (recipe will make extra, which keeps under refrigeration for a few days)
1 head cauliflower, approximately 2 ½ pounds (as purchased weight -“AP”)
½ Vidalia or white onion, approximately 4-5 ounces, peeled weight (edible portion- “EP”), plus extra for optional vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced or mashed
Optional: ½ stalk celery, roughly chopped
3-4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil or unsalted butter…or any combination/mix of these cooking fats
2-3 cups hot water or vegetable stock (see below for recipe to make a quick vegetable stock) **
Kosher salt, (to taste -“T.T.”)
Fresh ground pepper (white pepper instead of black is a nice touch…. if you have it)
4 ounces gouda cheese, grated
½ fresh lemon
½ pound medium asparagus spears
¼ pound sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons minced chives
1. Rinse the cashews under cold running water. Put in a small dish/bowl and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Cover the dish and store in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to use.
2. Turn the cauliflower over and snap/pull off all the leaves. Cut the core out of the head by using a paring knife to cut a square ‘box’ around the stem. Twist, pull and cut out the stem. Save for the stock. (optional)
3. Break the cauliflower into separate and smallish flowerets, each piece should be about 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. Process the pieces in a food processor. Do this in batches, don’t over-fill the processor bowl. The cauliflowerettes should not exceed the height of the blade. Process by turning the machine on-and-off a few times (‘pulse’) until the cauliflower resembles grains of rice. If you over-process, the cauliflower ‘rice’ will be wet instead of dry. Empty the processor bowl and repeat. Set aside. Wash and dry the processor bowl with its cover to make the cashew ‘cream’.
4. Cashew ‘Cream’: Drain the soaking cashews and rinse under running cold water. Put the cashews into the bowl of the processor. Add ½ cup, cold, fresh water and process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add more liquid if necessary to make a creamy and smooth puree. Season with a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. Don’t add more than a few drops of lemon juice. Remove to a separate bowl.
5. Finely dice the onion and mash the garlic. Set aside.
6. Snap the ends off the asparagus and save for stock (optional). Remove the ‘strings ‘from the sugar snaps and cut in half. Set aside.
7. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the pot. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook for 2 minutes or until just tender. Add the snap peas to the pot and immediately drain the pot into a strainer. Rinse the blanched vegetables under cold water. Wrap in paper towel or cloth and set aside.
8. Optional: Make Vegetable stock: Shave the brown/ground end off the cauliflower stem and rough chop stem into several pieces. Add to a saucepan and add 5-6 cups cold water. Add the asparagus stems, the sugar snap trimmings, 1 clove of mashed garlic, the chopped celery and a few pieces of roughly chopped onion. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. The stock will be very lightly flavored. Add a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Strain and season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
9. Make the risotto: In a large sauté pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of your choice of cooking fat(s). Just as the oil begins to ‘shimmer’ add the minced onions and cook until translucent over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and stir to combine. Season with a few pinches of kosher salt and fresh pepper. Add another 2-3 tablespoons of oil/butter to the pan and add all the processed cauliflower ‘rice’ to the pan. Stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt, turn heat to low and cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes to begin softening process. Gradually add 2 cups of hot vegetable stock or water. Stir to combine and simmer (without pan cover) at low heat until cauliflower is cooked and ‘creamy’. Add more stock/water as necessary. Add small amounts of liquid at a time, as the cauliflower, which is a vegetable will also exude its own liquid during the cooking process. When satisfied with the texture, season to taste and off the heat, add a few dollops of cashew cream and stir in with the grated cheese. (For some reason, gouda cheese and cauliflower have a natural affinity for each other---maybe it’s the nuttiness of the gouda ?). Stir in the minced chives. Add the cooked snap peas and asparagus and stir to combine and get warmed by the risotto. Season to taste with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.