Usually risotto is made with chicken stock, butter and cream. My vegan version of risotto uses cauliflower cream sauce instead. The fresh aromatic herbs and charred kale add so much flavor to the this warm comforting risotto dish.
Making things creamy isn't easy when you don't eat half and half, milk or cheese. That's why going dairy free or even just eating less dairy requires getting comfortable being brave in the kitchen and thinking outside the box. Here are a few ways to add a creaminess to plant-based dishes.
My Top 5 Favorite Plant-based Cream Alternatives:
- Vegan butter
- Dairy-free Yogurt and/or Milks combined with nutritional yeast
- Butter beans
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 was inspired by the Pinch Of Yum blog. Their recipe is not vegan - it's made with chicken stock and real butter - I adapted it to fit my plant-based diet and it worked out very well. The sauce gets an A in my book.
This risotto is really simple and basic. But it is garlicy, "cheesy", 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. Did you know, physiology studies show that comfort foods we crave are actually artifacts from our past. Crazy right?
What are your favorite childhood comfort foods? I personally craved bagels as a kid! I ate them on the daily, usually topped with honey, cream cheese, butter with salt, berry jam or even almond butter. I hadn't had a bagel in years until I discovered Kite Hill cream cheese (dairy free). Check out my Instagram for a photo. It definitely hit the spot and brought back memories.
Cauliflower Cream Sauce Instructions:
First, boil the cauliflower in vegetable broth. While its cooking, saute the onions in garlic and "butter" until they carmelize.
Once all of that is complete, everything goes into a food processor along with cashew cream. Blend all of it up until super creamy, adding vegetable broth as you go to thin out the sauce.
Add the creamy cauliflower sauce to your risotto rice and fold in the fresh herbs. And there you have it, Vegan Risotto with Cauliflower Cream Sauce.
Note: My kids approved my vegan risotto and trust me, that's a big deal. I know a recipe is a keeper when the entire family will eat it AND it's healthy. Am I right?
Recipe Notes: If you are still new to being dairy free you can garnish this d 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.
VEGAN RISOTTO WITH CAULIFLOWER CERAM SAUCE
- Food processor
- Frying pan
- Baking sheet
- Large Pot
- 1 ½ cup Dry risotto rice
- 1 head Cauliflower
- 2 cubes bouillon (or 2 tsp)
- 7 cups Water divided: 6 cups and 1 cup
- ½ Yellow onion chopped
- 7 cloves Garlic pressed or minced
- 3 tablespoon Vegan butter
- ½ cup Soaked cashews
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- ½ cup Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and basil
Garnish (optional step)
- ½ head Kale cut into 1-2 inch strips
- 1 teaspoon Olive oil or avocado oil
- pinch Sea salt & pepper
- ¼ cup Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese
- Cook the risotto rice in the same way you would cook normal white or brown rice. Or check the box of risotto for directions.
- Set the cashews in a bowl covered with water and let them soak.
- Preheat oven to 400 for the kale chips.
- Get out the following: food processor to blend the sauce, blender for the cashew cream, a baking sheet to make the kale chips, a frying pan for the onion and garlic and large pot for boiling the cauliflower.
Now Get Cooking:
- Cut the large stem off the cauliflower. Discard. 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.
- Bring to a boil 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.
- 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
- Add butter and onion to a frying pan on medium heat. Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes until they are translucent and start to caramelize a little on the edges.
- Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Add this mixture to the cauliflower in the food processor bowl.
- Add the pre soaked cashews to a blender with 1 cup water. Blend this up until creamy. Set aside.
The Cauliflower Sauce:
- Add ½ a cup of the cashew cream to a food processor bowl along with the cauliflower and onion/butter/garlic mixture. Pulse.
- Add the salt and pepper. Blend again. 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.
- 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 garnish):
- Gently massage the olive oil, salt and pepper into the kale.
- Lay the pieces evenly across the cookie sheet. Do not overlap.
- Chop the kale. Large stems removed. Add the pieces to a cookie sheet. 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.
- Garnish the risotto with these little kale chips.
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.