This broiled cauliflower risotto might just be the most comforting dish after mac & cheese. It’s rich and cheesy, and the chili kick makes it stand out.
This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure is at the bottom of the article.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, and I think it’s an underrated one too. It’s cheap and wonderfully versatile: you can turn it into the creamiest soups or the crunchiest salads. You can boil it, puree it, grill it, roast it, and broil it. You can also add it to curries and pasta to add some bulk and beef up the nutrient count. The way you prepare cauliflower gives it its own unique personality and beautifully complements the ingredients it shares the stage with.
Cauliflower also plays a central role in some of my favorite, ultra-comforting dishes. Cauliflower gratin would be a strong contender to be my last dish on earth, as would cauliflower mac and cheese. But my ultimate cauliflower dish is this broiled cauliflower risotto. Crunchy-tender broiled cauliflower combined with ultra-cheesy risotto and some chili flakes for an added kick? I’m in heaven.
Risottos are feared by many because they are believed to be difficult and to take a long time to make, but it’s an undeserved reputation. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to stay glued to the hob when you make risotto. In fact, the reason why risotto gets so creamy is because the short-grain rice used for making risotto contains a lot of starch, which is slowly released throughout the cooking process. This is why you need to stir risotto once in a while, to make sure that that starch is released to create that irresistible texture, but there’s no need to stir it continuously—once every few minutes is just fine.
You won’t need long to make risotto either: once your ingredients are prepped and ready, cooking the cauliflower risotto—from sautéing the vegetables to adding the final ladle of broth—should take no more than 20 minutes. A bit of multitasking helps you optimize the process, too: when I make this risotto, I mince the shallot and dice the celery, measure up the rice, then start cooking right away. While the vegetables cook, I bring the stock to a boil, then use the risotto’s cooking time to broil the cauliflower and grate the cheese. That way, there’s no time wasted!
Still think risotto is difficult to make? Think again. No special techniques need to be mastered to make risotto. All you have to do is learn a basic recipe and know how to tell when the rice is al dente: grains should be plump but not mushy. Like pasta, it should be soft yet still retain some texture when you bite into it.
Once you master the basic risotto routine, you’ll find it really easy to turn out any risotto recipe that comes your way. From elegant corn and crab risotto, to super-fresh green pea risotto, to hearty sausage risotto—a world of deliciousness awaits. But start your risotto-making journey with this incredibly easy, scrumptious broiled cauliflower risotto recipe: I have a feeling you’ll fall head over heels in love with it at first bite, just like I did several years ago.
As is often the case with simple, Italian-inspired dishes, using the very best ingredients you can get your hands on or afford makes the biggest difference in terms of the flavor of your final dish.
In this cauliflower risotto, I encourage you to use low-sodium broth, or even use homemade broth if you have some on hand, as it most likely will impart a softer, milder flavor to the risotto.
Also, use quality risotto rice for the creamiest texture—Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano are all good picks—and please, please, please, only use Parmigiano-Reggiano as your cheese of choice. Learn why Parmigiano-Reggiano is my cheese of choice for most risotto, but especially for this rich broiled cauliflower risotto, below!
Parmigiano-Reggiano has a sharp, nutty, salty flavor that lends a ton of flavor and an unforgettable creaminess to risotto. No need to add extra butter or cream to your risotto when you use the real stuff! Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is controlled under a Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (protected designation of origin), which means it has to be produced in a specific way in specific regions of Italy to be awarded the name. Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano has a stamped rind, is aged at least 12 months, and is usually labeled with its original Italian name (as opposed to just “parmesan.”) Yes, Parmigiano-Reggiano is more expensive than cheese products labeled parmesan, but you don’t need a lot to make your dishes extra special. Save it for recipes that make the most of its unique flavor, such as this cauliflower risotto!
Photo: Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano
Most risotto recipes serve 4 to 6, with ingredient quantities that are hard to split into halves or thirds. This has always annoyed me because I usually make risotto for 2 people. So I’m writing all my risotto recipes to serve 2, which means the math is easier to scale up the ingredients to serve 4 or 6 guests. Note that this cauliflower risotto recipe produces a generous 2-serving yield—you could stretch it to 3 servings if this dish is part of a more elaborate menu that includes appetizers and sides.
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link, I may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through such links, at no extra cost to you. This helps me creating new content for the blog–so thank you! Learn more about advertising on this site by reading my Disclosure Policy.