Monday, 18 May 2015

Mushroom Caulisotto

My apologies if you're Italian: look away now, there's no rice here - just low-carb creamy cauliflower lusciousness!

For when you’re craving the flavours of a creamy, rich-tasting, mushroom risotto, but don’t want all of the calories. If you're a fan of cauliflower ‘rice’ (as well as creamy mushroom risottos) you'll enjoy this, as cauliflower is the main component of the dish and it's only 260 calories per serving.

When I came up with this dish about a year and a half ago, I had trouble naming it, and it started off life as 'Mushroom Floretto', which was a tweak away from the rather sophisticated suggestion of ‘Mushroom Fleurotto’ after I appealed for help from my 5:2 recipe group naming it (which beat ‘Mush-rotto’!). This was supposed to be for two people when I developed it, but there was way too much, so that’s why it serves three! However, it is good warmed-up the next day too, and microwaves well (you could also freeze a portion for an easy, quick meal another time, although the texture of the cauliflower will be slightly softer). If you're a meat eater and can't go without your protein fix, this would also make a delicious side dish to something like chicken breast wrapped in parma ham, or you could add bacon or chicken to the dish before the mushrooms.

Serves 3 as a main dish, 260 calories per serving (truffle oil additional) or 304 calories in total for the spinach and sun-dried tomato twist (highly recommended!).

Three elements of this dish are very much down to you, and will make all the difference to your experience of this dish, so be sure to do it 'your way'... 

1) How you like your cauliflower rice cooked (crunchy or soft), 
2) How creamy/wet you like your ‘caulisotto’ (you know, fake cauliflower ‘risotto’), and 
3) How much salt suits your palate. 

This is why it’s really important to taste it before you serve it, as you can change all three (except if you overcook your cauliflower, obviously!). It’s not risotto, but it is pretty darn tasty if you’re a mushroom lover who likes cauliflower rice, and I hope you enjoy it as such!

  • 500g cauliflower florets [190]
  • 400g mushrooms, sliced about ½cm thick (a mixture of your favourites, or go for something flavourful like chestnut mushrooms) [64]
  • 12g dried porcini mushrooms (optional, but adds a lot of earthy mushroom flavour) [35]
  • 1 large onion, halved then sliced (about 120g) [49]
  • 1 tsp (5g) butter [36]
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed [12]
  • 1 ½ tbsp chicken (or vegetable) bouillon concentrate (I use ‘Touch of Taste’) or use one chicken or vegetable stock cube, e.g. Knorr [25, or 32 for stock cube]
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) dry white wine [25]
  • 1 tsp lemon juice [1]
  • Optional few drops of white truffle oil (1/2 tsp) [23]
  • 80g light cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia) [120]
  • 55g Parmesan cheese, finely grated (set 15g aside to serve, use vegetarian alternative if appropriate) [215]
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (plenty!) [5]
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped [2]

Delicious variation

I highly recommend this for a really tasty dish! Add 150g baby/young leaf spinach [51] and 50g drained, finely chopped sundried tomatoes [82] for a really delicious twist, just before you add the cream cheese.


1) Put the dried porcini mushrooms (if using) into a bowl with 250ml boiling water, and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Set aside the kettle with hot water in it for when you’re cooking.

2) Whilst the mushrooms are soaking, blitz the cauliflower florets in a food processor or pulse in a blender, until it’s finely chopped and resembles large-ish grains of cous-cous. You could swill out your food processor after this, and use it to chop the onion too, if you’re feeling lazy!

3) Chop/slice the rest of the vegetables and herbs, grate the parmesan, and set 15g parmesan aside for serving, and 40g aside for the risotto. Weigh out the cream cheese and give it a bit of a whip with a fork quickly to soften it.

4) Drain off 200ml of the soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms into a jug avoiding pouring the end of it in, with any sediment (you may want to use a sieve). Discard the remainer of the soaking liquid and sediment away, rinse the mushrooms in the sieve, squeeze excess water out, chop up and set aside with the sliced mushrooms. 

5) Add the bouillon/stock cube, wine, lemon juice and truffle oil (if using) to the mushroom liquor and set aside.

OK, now you’re ready to cook!

6) Take a large, good quality non-stick pan (I actually used a wok, as there is a fair amount of volume to this!) and melt the butter in it over a fairly low heat and add the onions. Fry gently for 3 or 4 minutes until softened, but not browned.
7) Turn up the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and continue to cook for another 7 or 8 minutes, until they’ve released some of their juices and softened a little. Meanwhile, microwave the cauliflower ‘rice’ for 2 minutes, stir, and microwave for another 2 minutes (if you don’t have a microwave, or don’t wish to microwave it, don’t worry, just add it to the mushrooms after 4 or 5 minutes, to cook through).
8) Add the stock (with wine and lemon juice) to the pan, with the crushed garlic, and continue to cook until the liquid is almost all reduced (5-6 minutes or so).

9) Add the cauliflower ‘rice’ to the pan (if you haven’t already) and continue to cook for a minute or five until it is to your liking (some people like it with a crunch, some like it quite soft, so I can’t give you an exact timing for this – it’s down to your personal tastes, much like salt levels!). If you think it’s starting to look a bit dry, pour a couple of tablespoons or so of hot water from the kettle into it. It should be moist.

10) Once the cauliflower is just about to your liking (here is where to add the spinach and sundried tomatoes, if you’re using them), make a little well in the middle of it, and put the cream cheese in there. Pour over a couple of tablespoons of hot water, and stir with a spoon until the cream cheese has ‘melted’ down a little, and you can stir it through the rest of the mixture. 

11) Add the 40g grated parmesan, a good grinding of fresh black pepper and the chopped parsley (reserving a little to sprinkle over at the end) and stir it through. Taste, and add salt as required (you may not need any, I add an extra pinch or two). If it seems dry, add a little touch more hot water from the kettle so it has a creamy texture from the cream cheese and serve, sprinkled with the reserved parmesan, parsley, and a grind of fresh pepper – and enjoy your healthier, low-carb, rice-free alternative to risotto!


  1. Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Alison, thank you for leaving a comment! :)


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