Whether you lean toward a low-carb diet or you’re just trying to cram more veggies into your life, cauliflower is a satisfying substitute for, well, just about anything. Mashed potatoes, fried rice, even pizza crust can be mimicked using this versatile veg.

This dish is inspired by a traditional Italian favorite, risotto, but swaps the rice for nutrient-dense barley and low-carb cauliflower (it also has way, way less butter — sorry). Serve as a side dish or top with your favorite protein like chicken or shrimp, for a balanced meal. Vegetarian? You can easily swap out the chicken stock for vegetable to suit your dietary needs.

Barley Cauliflower Almond “Risotto”

Prep time: 10 minutes   Total time: 45 minutes   Makes 4 servings

• 1 head cauliflower
• 3-3 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 Tbsp butter
• 1 leek, dark green removed, thinly sliced
• ⅔ cup pearl barley
• ¼ cup dry white wine
• 1 ½ tsp salt
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
• ¼ cup sliced raw almonds

1. Remove stem of cauliflower and cut into small florets. Place florets into a food processor and pulse until cauliflower resembles small couscous like grain. Set aside.

2. Heat chicken stock over medium in a small saucepan on back burner. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer.

3. Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add in leeks and cook until they are tender and fragrant. Stir in barley and add in white wine and salt. Increase heat to high and continue to stir until barley has absorbed all liquid in the pan.

4. Reduce heat to medium. Pour in ½ cup of simmering chicken stock and stir until liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add in another ½ cup of stock and repeat.

5. Stir in cauliflower bits, almond meal and 1 cup of stock. Stir continuously until mixture is creamy and thick, about 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup of stalk at a time, until barley is cooked through and mixture is a thick porridge-like consistency.

6. Garnish with fresh rosemary and sliced almonds.

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