Recipe Wednesday: Dinner Improv – Faux Risotto

I have to admit–one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to poke through the fridge and cupboards and invent a dish from what I find.

In our house, lately, that’s meant a lot of tuna casserole, owing to a bit of an overstock of tuna and pasta.  Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.  But sometimes I want a bit…more.

I came home tonight just as the rain was turning into snow, big fat splats falling on my windshield.  It was the perfect night to come home to something one had thrown into the slow-cooker that morning.  Unfortunately, I’d lacked that degree of foresight.

Nevertheless, I was in the mood for some comfort food.  So I poked the garage freezer and found some salmon fillets, a bag of frozen cauliflower, and another of green beans.  Well, it was a start.  Hmmm.  Something like a risotto might be nice.

And it would have been, had my cupboards not been completely lacking in rice.  Though they did yield a jar of garlic alfredo sauce, and poking in the kitchen freezer got me the remainder of a bag of shrimp that really needed to get used up.

Faux Risotto

Not really risotto. But still tasty

But then I remembered a trick from my low-carb days, where I used to use cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes and rice.  Hey, that could work.

After pondering for a few minutes, I came up with this:

Faux Risotto

1 12-oz. package frozen cauliflower (or equivalent fresh), cooked and drained
1/2 12-oz. package frozen green beans (or equivalent fresh), cooked and drained
1/2 lb. smallish shrimp, peeled and deveined (or use large shrimp and cut them into pieces)
1/2 lb. salmon, skinned
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon white wine (I used moscato)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
garlic powder or chopped garlic, to taste
pinch Italian seasoning blend
1/2 jar alfredo sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese

Place cooked cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 4-5 times, until cauliflower is finely chopped but not pureed–about the consistency of rice.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet and add the chopped cauliflower, the green beans, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture starts to scorch, add a few tablespoons of water to moisten.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over high heat until it just begins to brown.  Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place shrimp in skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute and a half, or just until shrimp curl up and turn pink.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same small skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place in pan seasoning side down and cook for two minutes.  Add more seasonings and turn.  Cook for another 1.5-2 minutes.  Turn off heat and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break the cooked salmon into chunks.  It may still be slightly pink inside.  That’s okay; it’s going to get cooked more.

Gently fold the salmon and shrimp into the cauliflower mixture.  De-glaze the shrimp/salmon pan using the white wine; add to cauliflower mixture.  Cook until liquid disappears, about five minutes.

Fold in alfredo sauce and heat for another five minutes, until the mixture is heated through.  Be careful not to overstir, as this will break up the chunks of salmon.

Garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

Makes two servings.


This turned out to be very tasty, and exactly the sort of comfort food I was looking for.  As an added bonus, the leftovers will become tomorrow’s lunch.

What sorts of fun dishes have you invented using just what’s in your cupboards?


About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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