What’s cooking today: Cauliflower & macadamia risotto

What’s cooking today: Cauliflower & macadamia risotto
Tony Jackman’s cauliflower and macadamia risotto, served in a Mervyn Gers risotto bowl. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Nutty flavours and risotto make a happy match, and nuttiness works well with cauliflower too. A pair of cheeses in modest proportions add an extra level to the taste profile of this easy week-night supper.

Vegetables, nuts, wine, cheese, rice. There’s harmony in all that. Risotto invites a miscellany of flavours, and the use of this underrated brassica with white wine lends depth of flavour to this dish, with cream for added luxury.


1 large head of cauliflower, florets sliced off, choke discarded

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

300 g arborio rice

250 g salted, roasted macadamias, chopped

3 sprigs of thyme

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

About ½ a cup Klein Nektar extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)

3 cups dry white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

200 ml fresh cream

½ cup grated Parmesan and more to grate on top when serving

½ cup grated Boerenkaas

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste


Have your wine, heated stock and cream to hand, and a ladle.

Cut the cauliflower florets off their stems and discard the stems. Douse the cauliflower florets with olive oil, season with salt, and roast in a 240℃ oven for about 45 minutes or until softened and a little browned; if that happens quicker, take them out sooner. Remove from the oven and, once cooled, chop the cauliflower into little pieces. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan (I use the pan of a Le Creuset buffet, perfect for risotto), sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil with the thyme sprigs until softened. Discard the stems of the thyme sprigs. I used Klein Nektar olive oil from Montagu, a fine local product.

Add the chopped cauliflower florets to the onions. Remove them to a container and keep aside. Don’t rinse or wipe out the pan; you need to keep the flavour it already holds. 

Now add plenty of olive oil, on the heat. Pour in all the arborio rice and stir with a wooden spoon to coat it and, if it is not well coated, add more olive oil and cook gently, stirring often, until the rice has a lovely pale golden sheen all over. Season to taste with salt and white pepper and the grated nutmeg.

Return the cooked onion and cauliflower mixture to the pan as well as the chopped macadamias and, on a low to moderate heat, keep stirring while you add a little of the wine at a time until it is all incorporated, followed by the heated stock, also a little at a time, until that is all incorporated. It’s best to use a flat-edged wooden spatula. Go slowly as the rice must not be overworked. Gentle moving of the rice this way and that to prevent it catching is all that’s needed.

Now stir in half of the cream and the grated Boerenkaas and Parmesan and, once that is incorporated, the rest of the cream. Taste to check the seasoning. Continue cooking very gently, stirring to prevent it catching, until you have a creamy risotto with the grains al dente and not broken up.

Finish with more grated Parmesan and sprigs of thyme. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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