Cauliflower "Risotto" with Pesto and Spring Peas


An impromptu Monday night episode of “Chopped” in the Shindler kitchen led to one of my new favorite bases for low-carb leisurely meals. I had originally considered more of a fried rice-style preparation with my bag of English peas and eggs/soy ingredients in the fridge — but I eyed the basil pesto and had a change of heart.

The term “risotto” might be a stretch, as we’re dealing with a softer base that doesn’t require the traditional method of cooking with cups and cups of chicken broth. However, the final product is similar in texture and flavor, giving us an excuse to make Italian night with a healthy-ish outlook!

Note: If you aren’t a chicken sausage fan, skip to step two! This risotto would go beautifully with a grilled piece of halibut or salmon, or even shrimp.


Makes 4 servings

1 package/4 links of pre-cooked mild Italian chicken sausage, sliced
1 tablespoon light cooking oil
1 bag frozen cauliflower rice (12 ounces)
1 cup frozen English peas
1 tablespoon/splash of chicken broth
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
salt + pepper
red pepper flakes, to garnish (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add a single layer of chicken sausage slices throughout the pan, allowing them to crisp for 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook. Remove from heat once equally browned and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a second large saucepan, heat frozen cauiflower over medium heat, allowing the vegetable to seam and begin to defrost. Add a splash of chicken broth if the cauliflower begins to stick to the pan. Once cooked, turn down heat to medium-low. Add frozen peas, stirring to defrost until bright green. About 2 minutes later, stir in basil pesto and pecorino, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until cheese is melted.

3. Serve “risotto” in bowls topped with chicken. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and additional cheese, if desired.