Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Served 3.2

Here’s the truth about risotto:  It’s not that hard to cook.

After years of watching Top Chef, I’ve learned to fear the dreaded risotto.  Seriously, how many chefs have gotten eliminated for this dish?  Next to dessert challenges, I think risotto is the #1 chef eliminator.  It’s difficult.  It’s fickle.  It’s freakin’ cursed!

So as a home cook with zero professional training, I figured risotto was way beyond my skill set.  But after trolling the aisles of Citarella with not an iota of inspiration in sight, I caved and picked up some arborio rice.  I was gonna try this risotto thang, whether it turned out like garbage or not!

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Cauliflower 1

Well what do ya know… I may just be Top Chef worthy after all!  Because this risotto kills.

It’s savory, smokey, creamy, cheesy, and all sorts of “You won this challenge” totally legit.

It’s Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto.

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Diced Tomatoes 1

If you’re a Bravo lunatic like myself, you’ve been immersed in the irritatingly catchy Top Chef New Orleans promos.  I’m sort of dreading how annoying Emeril is going to be this season, but whatever, I guess anyone is better than that Toby Young guy.  I mean was that a Bravo casting fail or what?  Boring, boring, boring.

I also really hated last years live finale – I hope they go back to the old format.  I also hope they finally get around to a Nutella challenge because helllooo, Nutella is everything.  And maybe some sort of alcohol/food challenge, too?  Maybe they’ve already done that, but I’m pretty sure my booze-hound self would remember if they did.  ALSO, I’ve heard you can bake champagne into cakes – Is this true?!?  Because two birds, one stone is totally my kind of dessert.

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Pureed Cauliflower 1

Anyway – Risotto.  More dangerous than a flan, more nefarious than creme brulee.  Or so we’ve been told, right?  Well all this fear mongering over rice has been completely exaggerated.  Risotto is totally doable, and when cooked right, ridiculously delicious.

Risotto isn’t so much difficult as it is high maintenance.  You really need to watch it, observe it, monitor it – you know, cater to it.  It’s definitely not the kind of dish you just throw on the stove and walk away.  I mean, you could do that… if  you want the ole “pack your knives” heave-ho.

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Roasted Tomatoes 1

But as someone who vaguely identifies as being high maintenance, I felt like risotto and I had something in common.  We’re misunderstood, ya know?  We’re not demanding, we just require patience!  My hair isn’t going to straighten itself, risotto isn’t going to be fluffy on its own.  Great things need effort, you guys.  It’s a process.

You’ve been telling your man this for years, haven’t you?!

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Risotto 1   Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Risotto w Cauliflower 1

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto.  I agree, this title is offensively long.  But all these ingredients are just so integral to the success of this dish, I couldn’t remove one from top billing.  I understand why all these variables might be scaring you off but really, it’s much easier than it sounds.  First, the creamy cauliflower acts as a mock alfredo sauce, lending a creamy, cheesy consistency without all the fat and heaviness.  To add depth, roasted tomatoes provide a savory, smokey balance.  And finally, salty pancetta adds a light meaty touch that brings it all together.

Expertly seasoned with aromatic rosemary, Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto is a veggie packed delight.  It’s flavorful, it’s healthy, and it breaks all that silly risotto stigma.

Padma, are you listening?

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto

Yield: 5 servings

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Total Time: 55 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Arborio Rice (I used Riso Scotti)
  • 1 Medium Head Cauliflower
  • 3 cups Grape Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Cubed Pancetta (I used Citterio)
  • 1 cup Reduced Fat Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tbsps Mascarpone Cheese or 2 tbsps Skim Milk
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 2 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsps Light Butter (I used Land O Lakes)
  • 1 tsp Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 2 tsps Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn - approx.

Directions:

  1. Dice grape tomatoes in half, then place in small bowl. Dress with EVOO, oregano, 1 tsp rosemary, and a few dashes of salt and pepper, coating well. Transfer tomatoes to oven-safe dish and roast at 450F for 20-25 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and set aside.
  2. While tomatoes roast, break cauliflower into florets, discarding of stems. Steam covered over pot of shallow boiling water for ~12 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When cauliflower is room temperature, pour into food processor. Pulse until pureed, then salt and pepper to taste. Next add in mozzarella, parmigiano, mascarpone (or milk), garlic, and remaining tsp of rosemary, pulsing again until well blended. Set aside.
  4. In small pot bring chicken broth to a slow boil. Simultaneously, in large skillet melt butter over medium heat, then combine with arborio rice, coating all pieces evenly. Next, add heated broth to rice 1/2 cup at a time, allowing rice to absorb broth before adding more. Add white wine with chicken broth as you go, ~1 tbsp at a time. When all broth and wine has been incorporated and rice is tender, pour over with cauliflower mix, stirring thoroughly. Allow cauliflower and rice to blend for 5 minutes before adding in roasted tomatoes and pancetta, again stirring well. Let all ingredients simmer for another 5 minutes, then immediately plate and serve.

>> I had mascarpone cheese in my fridge so I used that, but skim milk would work just fine!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 304 Fat: 12g Carbohydrates: 35g Protein: 13g

 

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Served 2.1

 

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Profile 1.1

 

Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, & Creamy Cauliflower Risotto - Fork 1

umm, amazing.

 

 

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10 Responses to “Roasted Tomato, Pancetta, and Creamy Cauliflower Risotto”

  1. #
    1
    Ashley — September 12, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    Looks divine!

    Reply

  2. #
    2
    Abbie @ Needs Salt — September 12, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

    This dish looks so delicious! Pinned. :)

    Reply

    • Christine Fischer replied: — September 13th, 2013 @ 9:37 am

      thanks abbie! let me know if you give it a try :)

      Reply

  3. #
    3
    Olena@iFOODreal — September 13, 2013 @ 12:14 am

    Never tried the cauliflower sauce although I recently made squash mac and cheese. Would love to try this with barley instead of rice (whole grain:)). Have a head of cauliflower in my fridge. I buy it and never know what to do with it. Looks very good!!!

    Reply

    • Christine Fischer replied: — September 13th, 2013 @ 9:37 am

      def try the cauliflower sauce thing, it tastes amazing!!! you really can’t tell the difference and it’s so much easier – I think you’ll love it!

      Reply

  4. #
    4
    Ashley - Baker by Nature — September 13, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

    Whoa! What a beautifully decadent bowl of risotto that is!!! Yummmmmmy.

    Reply

    • Christine Fischer replied: — September 13th, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

      thanks ashley!! it’s as pretty as it was delicious!

      Reply

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