Turning Lowly Cauliflower into Sumptuous Risotto at Pinot Bistro Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Pinot Bistro Chef Steven MaryNow that it's fall, the crops we grow in our gardens -- and see at the farmers markets -- are beginning to change. I have to admit that it's always kind of sad to move away from the fun summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and melons on to the cole crops, which are grown in the cooler seasons and include cauliflower and broccoli. But a dish I recently had at Pinot Bistro in Studio City is changing my perception.

Pinot Bistro's Executive Chef Steven Mary (left) managed to turn the lowly cauliflower into an amazing risotto dish. Chef Mary offered it as part of his summer eating-healthy cooking class. Those interested in upcoming classes or Pinot Bistro's "day in the kitchen" program -- where guests can help prepare a five-course meal for up to seven friends -- can check their website. Chef Mary is a home gardener himself (he included some figs from his tree for one of our dishes) and also volunteers at the Los Angeles County Aboretum as part of their "Roots and Shoots" program, where Leigh Talmo teaches children how to plant and maintain an organic garden and Chef Mary helps them turn that produce into delicious food for their harvest party.

For those who would like to try their hand in turning cauliflower into a rich risotto, Chef Mary was kind enough to share his recipe. Enjoy!

Cauliflower "Risotto"

For this dish you will need:
A La Greque Stock and Preserved Lemons, both of which can be prepared ahead.

Pinot Bistro Cauliflower RisottoA LA GREQUE STOCK
1 lg onion-medium dice
2 carrots-peeled, medium dice
4 ribs celery-medium dice
1 bulb fennel-medium dice
3 garlic cloves-smashed
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
10 black peppercorns-crushed
10 pink peppercorns-crushed
10 coriander seeds- crushed
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. saffron
1 tsp curry powder
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs parsley
4 bay leaves
2 cups white wine
4 quarts water

In large stockpot over medium high heat, cook first five ingredients in olive oil for 10 min. uncovered.Add spices and aromatics, continue to sweat 10 min. more. Deglaze with white wine until almost dry and alcohol has evaporated away. Cover with 4 quarts water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 min. allow to cool, then strain.

PRESERVED LEMON
lemon peel of 10 lemons (no white pith)
4 cups water
1 cup salt
2 Tbsp turmeric
2 Tbsp coriander seeds crushed
2 Tbsp sugar

Bring water, salt turmeric, coriander and sugar to a boil. Pour water mixture over lemon zest. Leave zest in liquid and use as needed; rinse before using. Preserved lemon will keep for up to 6 months

CAULIFLOWER RISOTTO
1 lg onion-medium dice
5 Tbsp. Olive oil
4 heads cauliflower
Pinch of saffron
1 tsp. turmeric
A La Greque Stock
Preserved Lemon liquid

Poach cauliflower stems in A La Greque Stock until completely tender. Puree until smooth with cooking liquid as needed to get smooth consistency. Season to taste. Set aside.

Chop cauliflower florettes until fine, like Arborio rice.

Cook onion in 3-4 Tbs olive oil in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add a pinch of saffron and turmeric. Add chopped cauliflower, adding A La Greque stock a little at a time as you would risotto. It will cook quickly. Add 2 Tbsp. lemon preserve liquid to finish.

To serve, combine cauliflower purée, “risotto” and a little A la Grecque stock in a small pot and heat while stirring. It should look like creamy risotto.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
Makes 4-5 portions or 12 cups