This baked rice dish is total comfort food. Although it's called a 'risotto,' and although it uses Arborio rice, don't make it expecting the real deal - because the rice isn't stirred constantly while cooking, it doesn't have that risotto texture. Tim and I both thought it was more similar to 'cheesy rice' that we both remembered from our childhood. Of course, this version is a bit fancier with Gruyere cheese, roasted cauliflower, wine, and panko. And, because the rice is baked, this dish is a lot easier and more hands-off than a traditional risotto.
You'll need to plan a fair amount of time to make this dish, as it involves roasting the cauliflower, sauteing the onions and rice, and then baking everything together. That said, each step is easy and can be done mostly unattended. And, the results are fantastic -- creamy, cheese rice with tender, roasty cauliflower and crispy breadcrumbs! It's the perfect way to warm up on a chilly evening.
On the side: We served sauteed spinach with red pepper flakes for a little spice, but any type of green vegetable or salad would be great. Just don't go too rich so that you balance out the rice.
Baked "Risotto" with Roasted Cauliflower (adapted from Home Made Winter)
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
7 ounces Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry blush or white wine
2-1/4 cups chicken broth
7 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup panko
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cauliflower florets with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast until browned and tender, 10-15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
2. In an oven-safe skillet, heat a swirl of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rice and turn the heat up to medium-high. Saute for another few minutes, until the rice starts to become slightly toasted.
3. Pour in the wine and broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in the cauliflower and cheese, and put a lid on the skillet.
4. Pop the skillet into the 350 degree oven, and bake 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the panko over the rice. Return the skillet to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 5 minutes, until the rice is tender and the panko is slightly browned. Serve hot!