Cauliflower “Rice” Lemon Risotto with Arugula Pesto

Classic risotto is made with Arborio rice and tons of cheese. This dish has neither. Classic risotto cooks slowly and requires constant stirring. This dish comes together in no time at all. So what makes it risotto? It’s creamy and decadent—all the things you hope for with a lot less calories and a lot less fuss.

Cauliflower Rice “Lemon Risotto” with Arugula Pesto


ACTIVE: 20 MIN TOTAL: 45 MIN (includes soaking time for cashews)


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups “riced” cauliflower (from 1 medium-sized head; see NOTE)
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 20 minutes or up to overnight, drained
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (also called Pignoli nuts)
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (zest before cutting and reserve zest for garnish)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

How To Make It

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and turmeric; stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add broth followed by the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook until liquid reduces slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prep the cashew lemon “cream” by placing drained cashews, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, salt & pepper in a high-speed blender. Add ¼ cup cold water and blend until smooth (if mixture is too coarse, add water 1 tablespoonful at a time and blend again until smooth). Set aside.
  4. Once broth has reduced slightly, add the “riced” cauliflower, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower softens, about 3 minutes (if mixture is too dry, top off with ¼ cup broth, as needed to soften). Add cashew lemon “cream” and stir to incorporate. Cook 1 minute more for flavors to come together. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve immediately topped with arugula pesto, extra pine nuts and a sprinkling of lemon zest for garnish (or simply garnish with fresh chopped parsley).
  5. NOTE: To make the cauliflower “rice,” place washed, dried cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse a few times until mixture resembles rice. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 1 head of cauliflower will make about 3-4 cups of cauli-rice.


Recipe by: Andrea Branchini

Presto Arugula Pesto

This pesto comes together in minutes and pairs perfectly with the tart lemon creaminess of the Cauliflower Risotto. You can also add it on top of grilled fish or veggies, on pasta, on crostini, on sandwiches—the list goes on and on. It’s simple, versatile and dairy free too.

Makes about 1 cup


  • 2 cups arugula, packed
  • 1 large clove garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (or substitute toasted walnuts)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, enough to combine

How To Make It

  1. In a food processor, add the arugula, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until mixture reaches the consistency of a hummus. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Recipe by: Andrea Branchini

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