This vegan and gluten-free Lemon Risotto is a creamy citrus rice dish that’s served with spiced and roasted cauliflower. Serve this dish as a main course for Date Night, or as a fancy side dish at your next dinner party!
Some foods just scream “FANCY!”
It doesn’t matter where you eat them, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, and it doesn’t matter who you’re with– with every single bite– you feel like a pretty pretty princess.
Risotto is one of those foods. Why? What’s so special about rice?
Well, risotto isn’t just ANY rice. It’s creamy, indulgent, fancy-pants rice! One bite, and you’ll be hooked!
This Lemon Risotto dish is vegan, gluten-free, and topped with spiced and roasted cauliflower for a gourmet-style dinner.
What is Risotto?
Risotto is an Italian rice dish made with the short-grain, easy-to-find, and inexpensive arborio rice.
It’s cooked slowly over low heat with gradual amounts of warm broth added to the rice.
Slowly, the rice plumps up and becomes creamy and fabulous– even without added cream!
Can I Use a Different Type of Rice?
You could, but it might not (and likely won’t) have the same rich and silky texture as traditional risotto.
Quick Tip: Arborio rice should be right next to all the other rice at your usual grocery store.
How Do I Know When To Add More Broth to the Rice?
The trick to extra-creamy risotto is to cook the rice slowly. You’ll ladle in a little broth at a time, and stir as it cooks. You’ll know it’s time to add more broth when you can push a section of the rice aside in the pan, and broth does not fill the gap.
How to Roast Cauliflower
I pair my lemon risotto with cauliflower that’s been tossed in smoked paprika and chili powder and then roasted. The spiced cauliflower has a smoky flavor that works well with the citrus we’re adding to the rice.
I like to prep my cauliflower before I start cooking the risotto– simply toss it in the spices and olive oil, and lay it out on a baking sheet.
Once you start adding the broth to your risotto, slide the baking sheet into the oven, and everything should be ready at about the same time!
Once the risotto and cauliflower are both finished cooking, scoop the risotto into a serving dish and top it with the veggies. I add a little diced green onion to add extra color and flavor, and then it’s ready!
This meal feels “so fancy” that you may be tempted to wear a tiara and practice your posture while you carry the serving dish to the table. Feel free to hold your pinky out and pretend that you’re at High Tea with the Queen as you bite into this superstar rice dish!
Lemon Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower
- 1/2 cauliflower head, broken into florets
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, removed from stem
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon (zest first, then juice)
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 tsp turmeric (for color, omit if you don’t have)
- To Serve: diced green onion, optional
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Prepare cauliflower by tossing it in the paprika, chili powder, salt, and olive oil. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and set aside. (Don’t put it in the oven yet.)
- Heat broth in saucepan over medium heat until hot, and then keep warm on low heat.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to ripple, add the diced onion and sauté 2-3 minutes until the onions soften.
- Lower heat to medium. Add garlic to the pan, and sauté 1 minute.
- Add rice and stir 1-2 minutes. Add the rosemary and stir.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Add white wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until wine is completely absorbed (4-5 minutes).
- Ladle over 1 cup (or less) of broth, and stir every few minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until all your broth is gone. Don’t rush these steps- you want the rice to slowly release the starch and become creamy. Rushing will result in less creamy risotto.
- After adding the first cup of broth to the rice, put the cauliflower in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
- When you’ve finished adding all the broth to the risotto, and the liquid has absorbed into the rice, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and turmeric. Stir to incorporate. Taste, and add more salt if desired.
- Remove risotto from heat and cover to keep warm until the cauliflower finishes roasting.
- Serve risotto topped with cauliflower, and add green onion for garnish. Serve immediately.
- (Not Vegan): Add 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese to the risotto when it’s finished cooking, and stir to incorporate.
- (Not Vegan): Substitute cauliflower for shrimp. Toss thawed shrimp in the spices listed for the cauliflower, heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and sauté shrimp 1-2 minutes per side until they turn pink.
- Make only the cauliflower or only the risotto, and serve as a side dish to another meal.
This recipe idea was inspired by Half Baked Harvest’s Pasta Risotto with Chickpeas.