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Cauliflower Rice Lemon "Risotto” with Arugula Pesto

So what makes this cauliflower rice risotto? It’s creamy and decadent—all the things you hope for with a lot less calories and a lot less fuss.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings


For the "risotto"

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups riced cauliflower from 1 medium-sized head; see NOTE

For cashew/pine nut lemon “cream”

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 20 minutes or up to overnight, drained
  • 2 pine nuts, toasted (also called Pignoli nuts)
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (zest before cutting and reserve zest for garnish)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For the arugula pesto

  • 2 cups arugula, packed
  • 1 large clove garlic, halved
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, enough to combine


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, and turmeric; stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add broth followed by the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook until liquid reduces slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prep the cashew lemon “cream” by placing drained cashews, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, salt & pepper in a high-speed blender. Add ¼ cup cold water and blend until smooth (if mixture is too coarse, add water 1 tablespoonful at a time and blend again until smooth). Set aside.
  4. Once broth has reduced slightly, add the “riced” cauliflower, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower softens, about 3 minutes (if mixture is too dry, top off with ¼ cup broth, as needed to soften). Add cashew lemon “cream” and stir to incorporate. Cook 1 minute for more flavors to come together. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve immediately topped with arugula pesto, extra pine nuts and a sprinkling of lemon zest for garnish (or simply garnish with fresh chopped parsley).

Recipe Notes

NOTE: To make the cauliflower “rice,” place washed, dried cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse a few times until mixture resembles rice. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 1 head of cauliflower will make about 3-4 cups of cauli-rice.