Creamy mushroom “risotto”

I love Italian food, which means I have a near endless capacity for pasta and risotto, but I try not to keep it around my apartment for that reason, as I really don’t have any self control when it comes to some (most) foods.  Normally my strategy is to keep healthy foods and not so healthy foods totally separate, but when I see a recipe that’s making a typically indulgent recipe “healthier”, I am always curious.  One of the champions of this method is Hungry Girl, who is a woman who has a website and daily email that discusses makeovers of all different types of foods.  A lot of the time, she uses various artificial sweeteners or odd products that I’d never be able to find in Australia, but this “makeover” caught my eye because I was in a big cauliflower mood and have seen in multiple foods blogs how cauliflower can be used as a substitute for rice.

Ok hear me out here.  I know you are probably thinking, ew, there is no way cauliflower can be a substitute for rice and that is a creepy and weird vegan thing to do.  However, this recipe doesn’t go all the way – it uses some brown rice and then a whole bunch of chopped cauliflower, and I swear that you actually don’t even taste the cauliflower in the end product.  It’s like some kind of magic that thickens the dish and adds flavour without being gross.  You have to try it to believe it.  I think the end result of this dish was fantastic – it smells wonderful while it’s simmering, it couldn’t be easier to put together, and it honestly tastes really really good.  I was very impressed with the innovation of this recipe!

Creamy mushroom “risotto” (from Hungry Girl)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower – this is about half a head of cauliflower, and you need to chop it quite finely for the right effect.  This is the only “time sink” in the recipe – prepping the cauliflower.  Everything else is easy!
  • 1.5 cups fat-free vegetable broth
  • 1.5 cups thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1.5 cups thinly sliced white mushrooms – or you can just use 3 cups of one type of mushroom
  • 1 cup of spinach (optional)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or just sprinkle on oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, or a combination of them
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

The directions for this are ridiculously simple.  In a medium-large pot, combine all the ingredients except the spinach and the spices.  Add 3/4 cup additional water.  Stir it all until it’s well mixed, turn on the head to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover it and simmer for about 30-35 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the veggies are tender.  You’ll know it’s done when there is no liquid left at all, but taste to make sure – everything should be tender and it should be a bit creamy in consistency.  Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach if you’re using – it will wilt from the heat.  Stir in the spices and the salt and pepper to taste.  It should be creamy and hold together well and the rice should be tender.

IMG_4944Adding the cauliflower, rice, and onions to a pot with broth and water

IMG_4945Dumping in the mushrooms

IMG_4946Add a solid 30-40 minutes of cooking time and voila – you have something that legitimately is just as good as a risotto but far healthier

I won’t pretend in any way that this is equivalent to a risotto eaten in Venice or anything. But as a nice casual dinner for friends served along with a side salad, this is an amazingly easy meal to create and tastes far more impressive than the effort that goes into it. Plus, it freezes remarkably well, so make a double batch if you’re up for all the cauliflower chopping.  Trust me on this recipe, people – you may be skeptical the first time around, but you will want to make it again!

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