Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower “Risotto”

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So all of that sunny, early spring stuff I was talking about yesterday…..just kidding.

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto. I think I insulted the month of August by accusing it of being semi-pleasant and giving us an early taste of spring. Now it appears to be determined to live up to its expectations by proving itself as the grayest, rainiest, and darkest month of the year in Southern Chile.

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (5) Ugh, I’m doing it again! Since I’ve been writing a lot lately, however terrible I may be at it, I have noticed things in other people’s writing. On the top of the list is the fact that talking about the weather screams inspirationally uninspired, (bashing head into wall)…..and I do it all the time! Fail!

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (4) Okay, but I refuse to be drab and boring today. Forget the weather and it’s depressing sogginess, I need to find something upbeat to say. How about this: Did you hear about cauliflower? It’s the new kale. (I sound like a bad infomercial for a vitamix, but whatev.)

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (8) How do you feel about this? The health food world seems to be infatuated at the moment by the vegetable that is actually a flower and I can’t say I blame them. I’ve always been a big fan of the little “white baby trees” so I’m all over adding them to everything. Cauliflower brownies anyone? Okay, maybe I won’t go that far today.

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (7) I think the main reason for it’s current popularity is that cauliflower is so versatile. You can use it to replace the grains in almost anything, which is making it super popular with the growing gluten-free and low-carb crowds. I’ve tried all kinds of things with it myself, and anything I haven’t tried, I’ve seen someone else doing it. I think I’ve seen it all by now, cauliflower popcorn, cauliflower “mashed potatoes”, cauliflower hamburger buns, pitas, tortillas, pizza crust, noodles, go-go-gadget water skis (Oh wait, not that one.)

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (2) Yeah, well riced cauli is pretty common these days and I’ve done many times with yummalicious results. Sometimes it’s kind of nice to ditch the carbs in the meal and serve them on the side in the form of bread or crackers for those who want them. Then when you have surprise drop-ins for dinner you’re ready to serve almost any dietary restrictions. Of course, I threw in the pancetta here so it’s not exactly vegetarian, but you could skip it, or leave it on the side for those who want it.

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto (3) Basically, this is a simple, delicious, and fairly healthy way to eat cauliflower and you can make it your own by adding other veggies or meats.

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower Risotto,

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower “Risotto”

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 5 - 6

Creamy Portobello & Pancetta Cauliflower “Risotto”


  • 180g uncooked pancetta, cut into pieces
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese
  • 120g (about 1 heaping cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 cups portobello mushrooms, sliced


  1. Place cauliflower in a small pot and fill with about 1 inch of water. Cover and place over high-heat for 10 to 12 minutes until fork tender (adding more water if pan gets too dry.)
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, place pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and save pan.
  3. When cauliflower is soft, drain of any excess liquid the use a fork to break it into small pieces. Pour cauliflower onto a clean towel and squeeze out as much water as you can. Set aside the "rice" until needed.
  4. Combine cream, chicken broth, nutmeg, thyme, and salt & pepper in the pancetta pan with the leftover grease and place over low heat. Stir for about 3 minutes or until it starts to bubble, then add parmesan and cream cheese and stir until melted. Add mushrooms to sauce and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes until sauce has thickened, then stir in cauli "rice" until heated through.
  5. Serve topped with pancetta bits and extra parm. I also like to add cooked chicken to this sometimes to make it go further.

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