There are a lot of different dishes that just scream out “comfort food” from the very first bite, and for me personally, risotto is one of these dishes. Just like a plate of mac and cheese or a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup may be many folks idea of soul satisfying food, the creamy texture of risotto from the very first bite just makes me feel good. The best part of making risotto at home is that you could make it daily, and by changing a few flavoring ingredients you could have a completely different dish each time. I believe risotto has gotten a bad reputation for being a fussy dish that requires constant attention and takes a long time to cook which I think is simply ridiculous. In less than 25 minutes from start to finish you can create a creamy, wonderful bowl of deliciousness that would impress even the toughest critic. Although the flavoring additions are endless when making risotto, you do need to start with the same basics every time. The two main ingredients required to make a great risotto consist of rice and broth. You should use an Italian variety of rice that is specifically grown in Italy, such as Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Cararoli. Arborio can now be found in most American grocery stores, but certainly can be found at an Italian specialty store. Although homemade broth is always best, choose a low sodium organic brand if that isn’t possible.
Living in Umbria 6 months a year, we have developed a deep affection (maybe obsession?) for all things made with truffles. Of course the truffles I am referring to are not the chocolate variety, but the the gnarly black and white knobs that look like like pieces of tree trunk that grow underground but actually cost as much as gold. In our pantry we have truffle oil, truffle salt, truffle butter, ground truffles, pecorio cheese spread with truffles, and even lardo mixed with truffles (think meltingly tender cured pork fat mixed with the earthiness of truffles…..sigh).
So, I guess you could say we love our truffles, and I am therefore always looking for new ways to incorporate them into my recipes. While craving risotto one day I looked through my refrigerator and found a head of cauliflower and a wedge of parmesan. Add to that some truffle flavor and you have a deliciously subtle flavored, yet soul satisfying dish of risotto that would appeal to anyone. I found that the cauliflower when gently sauteed until just beginning to brown went really well with the earthiness of truffles and shaved parmesan cheese. Now I realize that most folks may not have a pantry full of truffle products as we do, but surprisingly truffle oil is now available in many grocery and specialty stores and although expensive, a little goes a long way. If you really are unable to find truffle oil, paste or butter, this risotto made simply with the sauteed cauliflower and shaved parmesan cheese would still be delicious! I love to grind some coarse ground pepper on top of this dish which really makes the flavor pop.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Divide In Half)
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Cup Arborio Rice
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
- 3 Cups Cauliflower Florets Cut Into 1/2 Inch Pieces
- 1 Quart Homemade Chicken Broth Kept Hot In Separate Pot
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- Truffle Oil or Truffle Butter To Taste ~ Drizzle A Little On Each Serving Of Risotto (Optional)
- 1/2 Cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese
- Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until tender, then add the risotto and stir until well coated with the oil mixture.
- Add the wine and continue to cook until it is almost completely absorbed.
- Begin to add a scoop full of the hot broth, stirring frequently until it has been almost completely absorbed before adding more.
- Continue to cook the risotto in this manner adding the broth scoop by scoop as the rice cooks.
- While the risotto is cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan and add the cauliflower.
- Cook over medium low heat adding a tablespoon or two of water stirring frequently until the cauliflower is tender and just beginning to color.
- Remove from the heat.
- After cooking the risotto for about 20 to 22 minutes, and it is just tender to the bite, stir in the cauliflower and butter.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the risotto into individual bowls, drizzling the top with the truffle oil or a spoonful of truffle butter if using.
- Top with the shaved cheese and serve immediately.