Old flavours: risotto with cauliflower

Cauliflower has made a comeback. For most of Australia’s history, it was a heavily cooked holder of very thick, very rich white sauces given a final kick along with nutmeg. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing better to serve at a dinner party, especially if the guests are thirty-forty-fifty-sixty-something. There’s another way to give them a hit of the memories, while offering something different, something with style. Give them risotto with cauliflower and let them add the nutmeg, grating it themselves, at the table.

1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

½ cup virgin olive oil

2 cups Italian rice, usually labelled Arborio rice

plenty of stock or boiling water

1 cauliflower, chopped into its little flowers

A broccoli, cut into its little flowers

plenty of Parmesan

the freshest herbs you can find


black pepper

50g butter, unsalted

nutmeg, and grater or sharp knife


Start the risotto as usual, cooking through a couple of additions of stock, then add the cauliflower and mix it through.


Continue cooking the risotto, stirring, making sure you do it gently. It’s okay for most of the cauliflower to give itself to the dish, but any pieces left here and there add another dimension of texture and a different burst of flavour.


Cook the broccoli pieces in the microwave, covered, for a few minutes, until tender.


When the risotto is just about done, add the broccoli pieces and the Parmesan, and season. Complete cooking and serve, with a liberal sprinkling of fresh herbs and a good whack of butter.


Play an Elvis record and don’t forget the nutmeg!

WINE: The other great semillon style in Australia, besides that of the Hunter, comes from the Barossa. These wines are more approachable when young and can do with some oak maturation. Basedows White Burgundy is a good example of the style. Other variations on the theme to try are Peter Lehman’s and Krondorf Chablis.