The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

roasted cauliflower and thyme risotto with lemon pangritata

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A couple of months ago I received an approach from Suma, a vegetarian wholefoods cooperative based in Yorkshire, who asked if I would be willing to create recipes for their bi-monthly catalogue.

Suma runs on strong ethical principles, specialising in fairly traded, organic and natural products, and as a workers’ cooperative to boot they pretty much tick all the right boxes for me, so I was delighted to accept their proposal.

This, then, is the first of a series of bimonthly recipes I will be creating and publishing in association with Suma.

As part of our arrangement, this recipe has used some products supplied by Suma, the choice of which has been entirely my own.

lemon thymelemon zestcauliflower floretspangritata

However, a key principle underpinning the recipes that I publish on this blog has always been that they must include at least one seasonal ingredient that I have grown myself, that has been given to me by another grower or that I have foraged.

When I first planned this recipe, based around a combination of flavours and textures designed to provide a big “wow factor”, I had rather optimistically worked on the assumption that by now I would be harvesting the first of the summer cauliflowers from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden.

Unfortunately, although I can see some creamy curds appearing on my cauliflower plants they are still a little way off being ready, so the cauliflower I’ve used for this dish has come from a local organic supplier. Nevertheless, the usually dependable Circus Garden is the source of the Carcassonne garlic and the lemon thyme that I have used in this recipe, so despite the disappointment of the cauliflower I can still say that I have managed to keep to that core principle.

roasted cauliflower and thyme risotto with lemon pangritata


1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
300 g arborio or similar risotto rice
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
glass white wine
1.2 litres vegetable stock
20 g organic butter
30 g vegetarian Parmesan (I used Mangiagratta)
juice of 1 lemon (use the zest for the pangritata, below)

for the pangritata

30 g fresh ciabatta breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme
25 g butter

to finish

a few fresh thyme leaves, chopped
thyme flowers


1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (325°F, gas mark 3).

2. Place the cauliflower florets in a baking tray and pour on one tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix to combine, ensuring all of the cauliflower florets are coated in oil. Put the tray in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the florets are browned. Remove from the oven and drain the florets on kitchen paper.

3. While the cauliflower florets are roasting, make the pangritata. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. As soon as it starts to bubble, add the breadcrumbs. Stir to ensure all the breadcrumbs are in contact with the butter. Continue to stir until the breadcrumbs are light golden brown and crisp, which should take no more than 2 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat, stir in the lemon and chopped thyme and the tip the pangritata onto kitchen paper to drain. Set to one side.

4. Now for the risotto. Bring the stock to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Put the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a large pan over a medium flame. When hot, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute before adding the rice. Stir to ensure all the grains of rice have contact with the oil.

5. Now turn up the heat and pour in the wine, stirring to deglaze. Add the sea salt and a ladle of stock and then reduce the heat back to medium. Keep stirring, adding a ladleful of stock whenever the rice starts to look dry. Continue to cook, adding stock a ladleful at a time in this way, until the rice is “al dente”. You may not need to use all of the stock to reach this stage.

6. As soon as the rice is cooked, which will take around 20-25 minutes, add the lemon juice, thyme, roast cauliflower, butter and Parmesan, stirring quickly to combine into the risotto, then remove from the heat. Divide the risotto between plates or bowls. Scatter over some of the lemon pangritata and a pinch of the chopped thyme leaves and thyme flowers.

Categories: vegetarian


16 replies

  1. Trying this one tomorrow night! xx

  2. Roasted veggies are delicious, but I have not tried roasting cauliflower. I sometimes think that boiling/steaming does nothing for the poor cauliflower, which often gets a bad press. Your risotto looks so delicious. It is now on my list of things to try!

  3. Thanks Ann. You’re right about cauliflower’s (unfair) reputation, but it responds magnificently to roasting, which really intensifies the flavour. I do hope you get to try this recipe as it’s one of my personal favourites from my blog so far and I am confident that you will love it!


  4. Roasted cauliflower is delicious, awesome recipe, easy to make vegan and gluten free!

  5. Fab! Great how you managed to stick to your principles and produce such a lovely recipe

  6. Thank you Urvashi!


  7. I love roasted cauliflower and I LOVE risotto’s so, I’ll definitely be giving this a try (veganising it) especially as I have lemon thyme growing too. x

  8. I love Suma, congrats! And actually, congrats to them for getting YOU! But one request: can the tinned tomatoes be assuredly NOT lined with BPA plastic? It’s hormone disrupting and doesn’t belong in acidic food! Suma, like others, maintain they are in line with an international standard, and lining helps the product to last longer, but plenty of other companies intermittently line and don’t line, which would mean not lining is feasible too…. I’m in favour of the precautionary principle. This was a personal campaign of several years ago, and I didn’t succeed regarding Suma. Cheers, and thanks. And wonderful recipe as per usual…

  9. Hi Annie and thanks for your comments. I wasn’t aware of the lining issue with tinned tomatoes, so thank you for alerting me and others to this. As it happens I don’t plan to be using tinned tomatoes for some time now, as the first of the beautiful Matina tomatoes I am growing in the greenhouse on my allotment plot is almost ready to pick, with plenty more on the way.


  10. Thanks, but it’s the vegetables and fruit that do the amazing things, I just plant them 😉

  11. They look delicious! Prefect recipe since we are trying to cut down on takeaways
    too – will be trying next time we make curry at home.

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