How To Make An Incredible Risotto Without Rice—It’s Possible!

Women's Health |

By Betsy Andrews; Photography by Matt Rainey

Sunflower seeds are the star of this low-carb, high-protein risotto.

At Nashville’s award-winning restaurant Catbird Seat, chef Ryan Poli often prepares a rich sunflower seed risotto, a dish as satisfying as it is surprising. In our take on his dish, the crunchy seeds—lower in carbs, higher in fibre, and far more exciting than rice—take on a delectable new personality draped in a luscious sun choke purée and gilded with a mushroom garnish.

READ MORE: #MeatFreeMonday Recipe: Mushroom Cauli “Risotto” 

Sunflower Seed Risotto

Serves 6


— 5 large artichoke hearts
— Kosher salt, to taste
— 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
— ½ cup finely diced onion
— 3 cups raw sunflower seeds
— ⅓ cup white wine
— ⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
— 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
— 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
— 1 cup thinly sliced wild mushrooms, such as porcini or oyster mushrooms
— Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Place artichokes in a pressure cooker and cover with 5 cups water. Cook until very tender, about 20 minutes. (Alternatively, bring them to a boil with 5 cups water in a large pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 1 hour.) Strain and reserve liquid. In a blender, purée them until smooth and season with salt.
2. Warm the artichoke cooking liquid in a medium saucepan. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in another medium saucepan. Add onion to the butter and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sunflower seeds and cook until toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the artichoke liquid, ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until fully absorbed and seeds are tender but still have a little crunch, about 30 minutes. Stir in remaining butter, cheese, and herbs. Stir in ¼ cup of the purée (reserving remainder for another use); season with salt.
4. Divide risotto among 6 bowls, garnish with mushrooms, and drizzle with oil and more Parmesan, if you like.

Note: If you can’t find fresh porcini or oyster mushrooms, dried, reconstituted porcini are a tasty alternative.

Ditch the carbs and kilojoules and still get that hearty taste by using cauliflower. Or try one of these seven cauliflower ‘rice’ combos that weight in at 1050kjs or less.

This article was originally published on

READ MORE ON: Dinner Ideas High-Protein Dishes Low-Carb Dishes Main Dishes Nutrition Recipes