A special dinner to me almost always means pasta.
What’s better than a bowl of perfectly al dente noodles, gently coated with sauce and oozing with cheese?!
My husband, however, doesn’t swoon as much for pasta.
He doesn’t love a starch-heavy meal and doesn’t quite understand that pasta is always worth it.
Considering he is a big part of this date night equation, I decided to compromise (an important thing after 15 years together) and make risotto.
Risotto still scratches my pasta itch but it avoids an eye roll and the comment, “Pasta, again?!”
Compromise can be a hard thing.
It’s one thing to have to agree on takeout, but with some of the recent changes in our lives, we’ve had to agree on how to raise kids, what home to buy, how much of our money to spend on that home, how to spend our ever-decreasing free time, etc.
At times over these past eight months, life has been challenging, and challenges are always going to affect a relationship.
How can we truly connect when we are stressed, tired, and overwhelmed?
So as the dust slowly settles—our babies are sleeping more and our 2-year-old is slowly becoming more self-sufficient (sloooowly)—I’ve been making a commitment to stop and make my marriage a priority, too.
It can be so easy sometimes to leave your relationship last on the list.
Since there are a lot less nights you will find us out on the town these days, this date night in couldn’t have come at a better time.
I knew I wanted to make risotto, and to make my husband feel even better about this starch-heavy meal, I added cauliflower rice to the mix along with the traditional Arborio rice.
Throw in some shrimp and some Parmesan, and this dish is a guilty pleasure without so much of the guilty feeling.
I also knew I wanted to have a little appetizer…
So I took some of the ingredients from my risotto and repurposed them. I roasted the garlic, which really transforms it into soft, caramelized, sweet nuggets—the perfect spread!
I paired it with some parm and extra roasted cauliflower, and was so excited to have my husband walk in the door to a plate of crostinis and some wine!
Of course, that meant preparing the crostini with a baby in hand (Daisy recommended some milk with the meal, but I was already maxed out at 10 ingredients).
In the end, it was a perfect date night meal—special but still hearty and satisfying.
And yes, we ate it on the couch.
It was our perfect Tuesday night.
Cauliflower Chive Risotto with Shrimp
- ½ small head cauliflower (about 8 ounces), or 2 cups prepared cauliflower rice
- 2½ cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 small shrimp, peeled + deveined
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 1¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives, more for a garnish
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
- Roughly chop the cauliflower, add it to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until it has a coarse, rice-like texture (this should give you about 2 cups). Set aside.
- Add the chicken stock to a small saucepan over low heat. While the stock warms, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent—2 to 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until it is almost fully cooked—about 3 to 4 minutes, then spoon out the shrimp and set aside.
- Add the Arborio rice to skillet with the onions and garlic and continue cooking until the rice is just toasted—3 to 5 minutes. Then add the wine and stir continuously until it is fully absorbed.
- Gradually add the warmed stock to the vegetable and rice mixture, ½ to ¾ cup at a time, stirring very often and waiting until it is fully absorbed before adding more. The more you stir, the creamier your risotto will become. Continue until the rice is just tender and still al dente—20 to 25 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower along with ½ to ¾ cup more stock and cook, stirring, until the stock is fully absorbed—about 5 minutes. Then add another ½ cup of stock and repeat. Taste the cauliflower; if it is still a bit raw, add a little more stock and cook for a couple minutes more (note, you may not end up using all the stock).
- Add the shrimp, parmesan, chives, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired). Continue to cook, stirring, until the parmesan is melted and the shrimp is warmed through. Add the salt in small amounts to taste (depending on the saltiness of your cheese and stock, you may need more or less than the 1½ teaspoons). Garnish with the additional chives and enjoy!
Roasted Cauliflower-Garlic Crostini
makes: 10 to 12 crostini
- 1 garlic bulb
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- ½ small head cauliflower (about 8 ounces), broken into florets
- 1 baguette, cut into eight to ten ½-inch-thick slices
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Finely chopped chives
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut off the top third of the garlic bulb, exposing all the cloves on the remainder; discard the top and place the remainder cut side down on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the garlic and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the foil around the garlic and seal tightly. Roast the garlic in the heated oven directly on the rack until golden brown and soft—45 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and turn the heat up to 425°F. Set the garlic aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the bulb into a small bowl, then set aside.
- While the garlic roasts, slice the cauliflower florets into ½-inch-thick pieces. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Push the cauliflower to one half of the baking sheet and arrange the bread rounds on the now open half. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the bread is toasted—about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the bread to a plate. Return the cauliflower to the oven and continue roasting until the cauliflower is nicely browned—about 5 to 10 minutes more.
- While the cauliflower continues to roast, spread the bread with the roasted garlic. Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove it from the oven and divide it among the crostini. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the Parmesan and chives.