I’ve made this recipe 3 times now. It is that good. I also wanted to test it out thoroughly and make sure I got the timing spot on for you. It’s an oven roasted creamy risotto with spinach and roasted cauliflower and it basically cooks itself.
This recipe is the perfect week night supper and it’s meat free. It’s loaded with two of my favourite ingredients, namely roasted cauliflower and spinach. I’ve been tossing spinach into everything lately as you can see with this spinach stuffed cannelloni and this meatball and spinach ravioli bake. Any chance I can find to whack in a whole load of baby spinach leaves I take it. They make dishes instantly healthier. They don’t require cooking, and you simply stir them through your hot food and they wilt into eating perfection.
Roasting a cauliflower the best way to eat this vegetable, which is really quite the most phenomenal thing. It masquerades as a carb, works well in a cake, can be turned into a creamy sauce and rocks as a fake cous cous. I like it best roasted and I shared the world’s best recipe for a roasted cauli last year.
A few notes on this recipe and these are important to read. The cauliflower requires longer time in the oven to roast to golden perfection, so put it in about 10 minutes before the rice if you have a big enough oven to fit both dishes. Or roast it before if you don’t. Luckily my oven is big enough to fit both the pot and the tray of cauliflower. Make sure the stock is boiling hot when you add it to the rice. If it is not, the cooking time will be longer. I used my medium Le Crueset cast iron pot with a lid which was the perfect vessel to make this dish. If you don’t have a lidded oven proof pot make sure you seal your dish securely with foil. You do not want any steam to escape during cooking. I used a good quality vegetable stock (Nomu vegetable fond). With risotto, the stock is such an important flavour component to the dish so use the best you can and even make it your self if possible. I used 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons for the litre of water in the recipe.
The risotto will take 15 – 20 minutes to cook if the stock is boiling hot. At 15 minutes it is pretty al dente and at 20 minutes it’s much softer which I actually prefer here, but check after 15 to see how you like it. There will be some excess liquid at the end of the cooking time. Do not worry about his. You still need to stir through the spinach and the crème fraiche emulsifies with this liquid making this a very creamy risotto. And there is the cheese, so things really thicken up at the end.
The quantity of sage seems like a lot but this is seriously one of the best parts. I fry it in two batches of bubbling hot butter until nice and crispy. You can use olive oil but for me, butter is the only way to fry sage. You can drizzle some of the browned sagey butter over the dish for added flavour too.
Cut up the cauliflower into bite size florets and do the same with the stem. I never like to waste any part of it. You can either roast that off with the florets or finely chop it up and add to the rice when you add the stock.
This recipe is adapted from one of the recipes from U Cook, which I tried out a few months ago. The first time I made it I used quantities for one, but I’ve scaled up the recipe to be perfect for 4.
Recipe – serves 4
- 1 small head of cauliflower weighing around 500 – 600 gms, cut into bite size florets
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- another 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 300gms Arborio rice
- 1 litre (4 cups) good quality vegetable stock prepared
- 20gms sage leaves (this is one average supermarket punnet)
- +_ 60 gms butter for frying
- 150 – 200gms baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups packed)
- ½ cup / 125ml crème fraiche
- 70 gms pecorino cheese or Parmesan, finely grated plus extra for serving
Pre heat he oven to 180 C / 350 F and toss the cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on a small oven tray. Season well with salt and pepper. Get this in the oven to roast 10 minutes before the risotto with a total cooking time of 30 minutes.
Heat the other 3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the onion until softened about 5 minutes. Add the rice and garlic and fry this for a further 4 minutes until the rice gets toasty and the pan will start to brown.
Add the boiling hot vegetable stock and put the lid on the pot (or seals with foil and place in the oven. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
While the risotto is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot or frying pan, and fry off the sage leaves until they crisp up. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
When the risotto is cooked, stir in the baby spinach leaves until they are wilted. Add the cream fraiche and grated cheese and season the dish with salt and pepper.
Top the risotto with the roasted cauliflower and crispy sage leaves and additional grated cheese and serve straight away.
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