Cauliflower Sauce Risotto with Herbs + Kale

Going dairy free or even just eating less dairy requires getting comfortable with getting creative in the kitchen and thinking outside the box. Making things creamy isn't easy when you don't eat half and half, milk or cheese. What then? Do you have to give up creamy comfort foods for good? No, not exactly. 

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

My 5 top favorite plants to cream things up:

  1. Cashews
  2. Potatoes
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Tofu
  5. Dairy-free Yogurt and/or Milks combined with nutritional yeast
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

Today I'm going to introduce you to a creamy cauliflower sauce that works well for risotto or as a soup base or even a vegan fettuccini. This recipe is adapted from the wonderful Pinch Of Yum blog. I had yet to make one of their recipes before but seriously drool at every photo of their plant-based creations. This recipe is originally not vegan, it's made with chicken stock and real butter. So I adapted it to fit my diet. And it worked very well. The sauce gets an A in my book. 

This risotto is really simple and basic but is garlic-y and really really creamy! The color of the sauce also gives the illusion of dairy, which is nice because comfort foods are all about past memories. Physiology studies show that comfort foods we crave are actually artifacts from our past. Crazy right?

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

What are your comfort foods? I'd love to try and recreate them without dairy or meat. Let me know if you have any suggestions or foods you just can't live without that you'd like to give a makeover. Do you have any other memories associated with food?

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

I personally crave bagels! All throughout high school I was obsessed with bagels. I ate them daily topped with honey, cream cheese, butter with salt, berry jam or even almond butter. I mostly crave cream cheese. I shared a photo on Instagram the other day of my everything bagel (gluten-free) topped with Kite Hill cream cheese (dairy free). It did the trick. Craving cured. 

Back to this recipe (wink) - it was also approved by my kids. That's a big deal. When my kids like something I know it's a winner because it's hard to find something that both kids and parents will eat that is healthy. They truly loved it. Also, If you are still new to being dairy free then add some regular parmesan to this dish after making it. Just fold in the parmesan shreds. You will think the entire dish was made from cheese. Just a little goes a long way. Trust me. My mom tested this out and she loved it. She said she didn't need to add the parmesan at all but even just a little bit did add that cheese flavor she was craving.  

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto Recipe

Yields 4 dinners

INGREDIENTS

Risotto

  • 1 1/2 cup dry uncooked risotto rice
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cubes or tsp bouillon 
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 7 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter (I used Myconos)
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of lightly dried or fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and basil  

Garnishes (optional)

Kale Chips:

  • 1/2 head kale, chopped into 1-2 inch strips
  • 1 tsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • sea salt + pepper

Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese

DIRECTIONS

Prep:

  1. Cook the risotto rice in the same way you would cook normal white or brown rice. I used a rice cooker. 
  2. Set the cashews in a bowl covered with water and let them soak. 
  3. Preheat oven to 400 for the kale chips. 
  4. Get out the following: food processor to blend the sauce, blender for the cashew cream, a cookie sheet to make the kale chips, a saucepan for the onion and garlic and large pot for boiling the cauliflower. 

Now Get Cooking:

Cauliflower:

  1. Cut the large stem off the cauliflower. Chop the rest into big pieces. Set the cauliflower in a large pot on the stove. Cover it with the 6 cups of water and the bouillon cubes/paste. 
  2. Boil the broth. And then turn the head down to medium/low and cook covered with the lid until cauliflower is soft and fully cooked. About 8 or so minutes. Do not discard the water.
  3. Using a slotted spoon you'll want to remove the cauliflower from the hot broth and put it into a food processor for blending. 

Onion, Butter & Garlic: 

  1. Add the butter and onion only to a saucepan on medium heat. Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes until they are translucent and start to caramelize a little on the edges.
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. 
  3. Add this mixture to the cauliflower in the food processor bowl. 

Cashew Cream:

  1. Add the soaked cashews to a blender with 1 cup water. Blend this up until creamy. 
  2. Add 1/2 cup this cream to the food processor bowl with the cauliflower and butter mixture. 
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

The Cauliflower Sauce:

  1. Now that everything is in the food processor you'll want to add the salt and pepper. 
  2. Blend away. And keep adding the cauliflower broth for more liquid if needed. You don't want this sauce to be super duper creamy and thick. But you don't want it to be a soup either. So play around and keep adding broth by a spoonful until you have the perfect texture. No chunks. 

Risotto:

  1. Add the cauliflower sauce to the warm risotto rice. Blend gently with a large slotted spoon or wooden spoon. Gently fold the sauce into the rice. Add all the fresh or lightly dried herbs. 

Mini Kale Chips (optional):

  1. Chop the kale. Large stems removed. Add the pieces to a cookie sheet. 
  2. Gently massage the olive oil, salt and pepper into the kale. 
  3. Lay the pieces evenly across the cookie sheet. Do not overlap. 
  4. Cook about 6 minutes in the oven. You'll know when they are done. They are very flat and the color changes to a darker brown. They should not be burnt
  5. Garnish the risotto with these little kale chips. 
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Risotto | Vegan | Gluten-free | #puremamas @julinovotny

If you're in the mood to really play around with innovative ways to make creamy foods without dairy, sign up for my newsletter because I am sharing a homemade ricotta recipe that uses macadamia nuts and is to die for. You can use it in so many recipes to add serious creaminess. The texture is similar to goat cheese.