Tiny florets of cauliflower mimic rice in this rich, creamy dish. Golden cauliflower adds appealing color, but the recipe works just as well with the white variety. Try it with pan-roasted brussels sprouts.
3 pounds golden cauliflower (about 1 large head)
1/4 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups shredded Italian fontina cheese (6 oz.)
About 1 1/2 tsp. white truffle oil (optional)
About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
How to Make It
Trim tough core and cut leaves from cauliflower. Break into chunks, then whirl in a food processor until broken into tiny florets.
In a 12- to 14-in. frying pan, melt 1 tbsp. butter over high heat. Add panko and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Add thyme leaves and toss to combine. Pour into a small bowl. Wipe frying pan clean.
Add remaining 3 tbsp. butter, the cauliflower, shallots, and 1 1/4 cups broth to same pan. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring often, until cauliflower is just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in cream and heat until boiling. Remove from heat, sprinkle with cheese and truffle oil (if using), and stir until cheese is melted. If you want a creamier consistency, add remaining 1/4 cup broth. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon into 4 wide pasta bowls and top with toasted panko.
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