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I know it’s not officially spring yet…

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

But this dish is basically spring in a bowl. Or on a plate or whichever way you choose to plate this sort of risotto-like meal.

This may be my first ever completely grain free dish on the site. You know how I really love my carbs, so um… this recipe is pretty out there for me (don’t worry though, it still has CHEESE…but only if you want it to, it can easily be made vegan as well). But just know, I would not be posting this if it was not down right awesome. It might be kind of hard to believe that a grainless risotto is good, by I swear, it’s GOOD.

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

I will also admit that the hemp seed pesto has a lot to do with why I love this dish so much. Don’t get me wrong, the risotto minus the pesto is still great, and a great meal to adapt and or build on the flavors, but put it with this pesto – perfection!

So, I am kind of having a bit of a moment with a few ingredients/foods right now. One of those foods is pineapple (it’s coming…x like a lot), the other is matcha (it’s also coming) and the last is hemp seeds. I have been wanting to use them so much lately, but so far, I’ve only used them in recipes that I haven’t put on the site. BUT, then I had the thought to make a hemp seed pesto, and then I thought, let’s do a cauliflower risotto, and then well… this recipe happened.

It’s weird how recipes develop, huh? It’s always a different process for me, almost every time. Sometimes it’s so easy and ideas/photos just form in my head and other times it’s a little more of a struggle, but either way I think it’s funny to see how it all goes down. I love the process. I especially love the process when the recipes form in my head like this one did. I can picture everything…which for me is a huge plus because I am such a visual person. I love to see things, picture them, and then make them come to life, you know? It’s honestly how I have fun.

UGH. Could I get any weirder? Probably not, but normal is boring anyway.

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

So since normal is… oh so boring, that means this totally not normal, quick cauliflower “risotto”, is amazing. Yeah!!

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

Also, it’s basically guiltless risotto. GUILTLESS guys. Heck yes!!!

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

Ok, so here’s the idea. You make some cauliflower rice, which if you didn’t know is just shredded cauliflower, and it’s actually pretty satisfying. Then you use that cauliflower rice like you would tradition risotto rice (arborio rice). Add in wine, asparagus and a little cheese and you’ve just made a killer fake-out risotto. If you wanted to make this vegan, just use nutritional yeast or simply leave the cheese out…but I wouldn’t.

Then, make sure you don’t skip out on the pesto. It’s my new favorite. I’ve been dipping toasted bread in the leftover pesto. Mmm<–Do this. You will be so happy!

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

And if wine is your thing, I’d do that too. It’s Thursday. Live a little.

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

Quick Cauliflower "Risotto" with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories Per Serving: 732 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small heads cauliflower finely grated*
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 inch small bunch asparagus cut into 1-2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth + more if needed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk or cream
  • 1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese use nutritional yeast for vegan eaters
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto


Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto

  • In a bowl, combine the cilantro, basil, hemp seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic (if using), parmesan cheese (if using), crushed red pepper and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Add water to thin the pesto if desired.


  • Heat a large, high sided skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in the asparagus. Slowly pour in the veggie broth and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower and asparagus are tender and "risotto" is nice and creamy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, then add the lemon zest, parmesan, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil (or truffle oil!! MMM!).
  • Divide the risotto among bowls or plates. Top with pesto and a drizzle of truffle oil if desired.


*You can either finely chop the cauliflower or run the heads through a blender or food processor. For the best consistency, I like to blend 3/4 of the cauliflower in the blender and then finely chop the remainder for a little texture.
View Recipe Comments

Quick Cauliflower “Risotto” with Asparagus + Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto | @hbharvest

If you don’t do wine, like me, just add more cheese. Totally does the trick every time.

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  1. 3 stars
    Good but I think it would be better with rice or pasta, because it’s quite intense in taste itself. And because of pesto I haven’t feel asparagus at all, so you can use only cauliflower. I don’t think I will try it again.

    1. Hey Dominika,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so sorry to hear you didn’t love this one! Let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xx

  2. 5 stars
    People are sleeping on this pesto recipe! I’d really like to see HBH revist past recipes in new posts. This pesto complements so many dishes! Made a rice bowl tonight with charred green beans, thinly sliced bell peppers, and meatless sausage, dressed with pesto. Practically gourmet!

    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad this recipe turned out so well for you!! I hope you are staying well! xTieghan

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