This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

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.

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. So tonight I tried your very nice alternative to the traditional (heavier) risotto. I also really enjoyed your hemp pesto recipe. Thank you for posting. It was delicious!

  2. I loved this recipe. I was worried about the cauliflower when I was cooking it because it does not adsorb all the liquid like rice in risotto does. It ended up turning out amazing. Thanks for the recipe Tieghan!! It was so light and healthy tasting in the end. I loved the flavors in the pesto especially the cilantro. Another great one.

  3. Coconut milk is so crazy high in fat…do you think the recipe would work alright without it? Or maybe with a substitute like almond milk?

  4. Just made this tonight. The risotto was so delicious with a little parmesan cheese on top. I forgot all about the pesto sauce in the fridge 🙁 Good news is I have some risotto leftover and i’m sure the sauce will be great when I eat the risotto tomorrow. It was SO good. Thanks!

  5. I wish spring would arrive… asparagus and all. Until then, I should relish in California’s asparagus (or is it Mexico’s) because this looks too good not to make. 🙂

  6. Yay! I can’t wait for spring and for all the dishes like this one! That pesto sounds wonderful, I absolutely love hemp seeds too. Gorgeous little risotto xx

  7. This is on our menu for next week! I can’t wait to try it. I can’t get hemp seeds here in Australia so I am going to substitute pepitas instead 🙂 Happy Spring to you, we are looking forward to autumn here after a very long hot summer!

  8. Heh–I’ll raise a glass of wine to that. This is an awesome bowl. Cheers–we’re almost at the weekend!!

  9. Carla Hall and Jamie Oliver posted cauliflower risotto and I immediately fell in love. This cauliflower risotto is just like the other two meaning I’m swooning over this!