This South of the Border Cauliflower Risotto might – at first glance – seem like the most un-paleo dish imaginable. As I learned upon googling “cauliflower risotto”, cauliflower is a common ingredient in risotto recipes and has only become the main ingredient (as a replacement for the rice itself) in recent years.
Another reason (for the double take I’m assuming you did after reading the title to this post) is the contradictory effect that “South of the Border” would have when paired with risotto, the traditional Italian dish.
Despite the unlikelihood of this pairing, I have to say it’s a match made in foodie heaven.
It’s vegan (but of course), paleo (sans grain, soy, starch, legumes), oil-free, and packed
with just the right amount of protein from the tahini. The avocado provides essential fatty acids, and the cauliflower ultimately replaces carbs with fiber – so you can have your cake risotto and eat it too, in the sense that devouring two or more helpings in one sitting won’t leave you stuffed and lethargic. I know this because I can’t get enough of this dish, indulging in after-supper spoonfuls with the rationalization that I must keep the flavor profile fresh in my mind while writing up the recipe. But in all seriousness, it’s just that good.
I haven’t eaten rice (the real thing) in ages, but I can say with absolute conviction that this South of the Border Cauliflower Risotto really does seem like rice. Bring it to a potluck or serve it to any paleo-naysayers in your midst and I swear you’ll have them fooled, or at least weakened in their argument that cauliflower doesn’t work as rice. On paleo blogs and forums, I’ve read countless comments lamenting the effectiveness of cauliflower rice aka riced cauliflower as a paleo-friendly alternative. I agree that it doesn’t always work out; if not cooked properly the result can be undercooked (raw, crunchy) or overcooked (it becomes cauliflower mash). However, somehow this attempt of mine went perfectly. I will try my best to relay the exact cooking procedure so that you too can experience this culinary and nutritional delight.
A few notes: despite the avocado-salsa combination, this South of the Border Cauliflower Risotto does not taste like straight-up guacamole. The flavor profile is definitely reminiscent of guac but still all its own. Speaking of the salsa, I used Emerald Valley Organic hot salsa, my absolute favorite store-bought variety, made in Eugene, Oregon. I’m always an advocate of fresh and authentic or homemade salsa, but decided to invent this recipe on a whim and didn’t have the ingredients for it on hand.
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 8oz green peas
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 ripe medium haas avocados
- 1 Tbsp tahini (sesame butter)
- 2 Tbsp Emerald Valley hot salsa
- salt to taste
- In a soup pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, add the cauliflower florets to your food processor and pulse until it resembles “rice". Between pulses, scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure an even consistency.
- Add riced cauliflower to the soup pot, reduce heat to medium, and cover.
- As the cauliflower cooks, mash the two ripe haas avocados with 1 Tbsp tahini and 2 Tbsp Emerald Valley hot salsa.
- Stir 8oz frozen green peas into the riced cauliflower. Reduce heat to low, and cover.
- Finely chop the 2 leaves of romaine lettuce for garnish.
- Stir in the mashed avocado-tahini-salsa mixture. Serve immediately. Enjoy.