I started out by cutting my cauliflower into much smaller pieces than I usually do, thinking tiny florets with the barley would create a creamier product. Then I searched for “cauliflower risotto” and after perusing a few hits, found this gem on Foolproof Living, a blog I had never visited before. I was immediately seduced by the creative use of miso, tahini, and nutritional yeast, and since I had all three at my disposal, decided to borrow liberally from the recipe. (Also, I didn’t have white wine, so I wanted a recipe that didn’t require it). The author called for processing the cauliflower into very small pieces, close to rice in size. Grumbling a bit about how much time I’d spent breaking down my cauliflower just so, I tossed my florets into my food processor. A few pulses and I quit, not wanting to completely pulverize my cruciferous beauty. So I ended up with a range of sizes of florets; from tiny, rice sized to larger, mini-floret sized. Just right, in my book. I made a few other substitutions, like using barley instead of quinoa; red onion instead of leek, and adding kale. I will absolutely be making this dish again.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 head cauliflower, processed into small florets (as described above)
1 small red onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced and allowed to rest 10 minutes before cooking
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 a bunch of kale, washed and torn into small pieces
1.5 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp miso (I used brown)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Lemon juice to taste
Bring the stock to a gentle simmer on the stove.
Heat the oil over low-medium and when hot, add the onion. Keep the heat low and let the onions cook gently for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and stir, making sure not to let it burn. After about a minute, add the barley. Stir well.
Start adding stock by the 1/2 to 1 cup full, stirring as you go. Barley acts differently than arborio (risotto) rice, so don’t be surprised if it takes a while to absorb the stock.
While your barley is cooking, measure out 1.5 cups of the veggie stock into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the tahini, miso, and nutritional yeast. Mix it up well.
When the barley is tender but not mushy, add the cauliflower, stirring. Then pour in the miso/tahini sauce and stir. You can throw in the kale at this point too. Let this mixture simmer until the cauliflower is cooked and the dish has reached a risotto-like consistency (thicker than stew). Squeeze 1/2 a lemon on top, season with salt and pepper, stir, and serve.