Many people these days are discovering they have a sensitivity to gluten or grains in general, but love the food made with these grains. Risotto, a creamy rice dish from Italy, is one of them. While I don’t have a problem with gluten/grains, I’m always curious about recipes that use substitutes for grains. Using cauliflower as a substitute for rice is one of the best ways.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Cauliflower Rice
This recipe is adapted from on on Mercola’s website (1). He states, “The term “risotto” does not directly refer to the grain used, but .. to the process in which the grain is cooked. The traditional way that risotto is prepared is by using good-quality rice and broth. The slow cooking process allows the rice to fully absorb the broth, lending it a rather creamy and flavorful taste.”
For more about the health benefits of using cauliflower instead of rice, and including butternut squash, see below the recipe.
The original recipe uses 3 cloves of minced fresh garlic and then adds 1 Tbsp dried garlic and parsley mix. to me, either use fresh minced garlic and chopped parley OR use the dried mix, but not both. But it’s up to you – I retain the dried mix as an optional ingredient.
It doesn’t indicate how many servings the recipe provides, but I would guess at least 4. I’ll update this when I test the recipe.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (or other winter squash)
- 6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted and divided
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (or more)
- 3 cups filtered water or a broth such as chicken or veggie
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp dried garlic and parsley mix (optional)
- Unrefined sea salt to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- baking sheet
- food processor or chef’s knife
- cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet or saucier
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Squash: Peel and cube the squash; toss with 3 Tbsp of melted coconut oil. Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 40 minutes in preheated oven, flipping over the cubes halfway through.
- Cauliflower rice: Wash & rinse the cauliflower, then chop/break it into florets. Place florets into food processor and pulse until they are broken into small bits the size of rice. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the florets with a chef’s knife. make the cauliflower rice by placing the florets in a food processor and pulsing them into the size of rice.
- Onion & Garlic: Dice onion and mince garlic.
- Cook: Melt remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
- Mix in the cauliflower rice and sauté for two minutes. Add water, bay leaves, dried garlic and parsley.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
- Once the butternut squash is ready, mix it into the cauliflower risotto until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Season with salt, to taste.
- Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
Benefits of cauliflower and butternut squash
Why use cauliflower instead of the more traditional small-grain rice such as Arborio? Mercola (1) provides three excellent reasons (see his article for his references):
- Reduced inflammation: Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory component that may help inhibit inflammatory responses in the body.
- Lower risk for cancer: Cruciferous vegetables have been linked to cancer prevention due to their bioactive compounds, one of which is sulforaphane, which facilitates cytotoxic response in cancer cells.
- Improve brain health in babies and senior adults (and in-between): Cauliflower contains high amounts of choline, a component that is essential for brain development.
The other main ingredient in this recipe is butternut squash, which provides its own set of health benefits including:
- Nutrient-rich in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A and C, and many other beneficial nutrients.
- Aids in digestion. A 1-cup serving (205 grams) of butternut squash contains 6.6 grams of fiber, which may help improve digestion and fight constipation.
- May combat macular degeneration. Its vitamins A and C may help slow down or stop the progression of macular degeneration by fighting oxidative stress.
- Helps maintain heart health. A cup of butternut squash contains 582 mg of potassium,1a mineral that has been found to regulate blood pressure.