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Paleo Risotto with Vegetables, Burnt Butter & Macadamia Nuts


no rice vegetable risotto paleo recipe

Recipe: Paleo risotto with vegetables, burnt butter & macadamia nuts

One of the dishes I really miss now that I avoid grains is a hearty risotto. I used to make it weekly in our house because it’s easy, cheap and super tasty. I’ve decided to develop a Paleo version using vegetables only as a base. It has a thick, creamy, soup like consistency and a fantastic texture.

The key is to dice vegetables into very small cubes that are all as equal in size as possible. This dicing technique is call brunoise. To thicken the sauce I used a few methods: liquid reduction, a little bit of gluten free flour mixed with water,  and finally some Parmesan cheese to bind it all together. Add to that a spoon of grass-fed butter and you end up with a delicious, thick, glossy risotto.

Macadamia butter adds extra crunch and a really nice, earthy flavour. You can use other nuts like walnuts or cashews instead. This dish can be eaten on its own or as a side.

For dairy free version: leave the cheese out (although aged Parmesan cheese is not a bad dairy option as most lactose is gone in the fermenting process) and use reduction and gluten free flour as thickening methods. You can also try adding some cashew butter to thicken the sauce or an egg yolk. You can use ghee instead of butter, although a good butter from grass-fed cows is almost all saturated fat with very little lactose and I cook with it a lot…mmmm…butter.


  • 2 cups finely diced cauliflower, brunoise style
  • 3/4 cup finely diced carrot (1 small carrot)
  • 1 cup finely diced zucchini (1 medium zucchini without the seeded core)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 heaped tsp tapioca or arrowroot flour mixed with 1/5 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

        For Macadamia burnt butter

  • 10 macadamia nuts, smashed or ground into crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter, organic and grass fed if possible
  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely diced
  • A pinch of salt


There are two processes in this recipe: risotto and burnt butter. Read the full instructions first and try to follow the order to get the timing right.

  1. Pre-dice onion and garlic. Place Macadamia nuts in a small plastic bag, lay it on a chopping board under a tea towel and give it a good smack with a rolling pin until the nuts are crushed into little chunks and crumbs, you can also use a food processor. Pre-grate Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  2. Heat a deep frying pan to medium. Gently sauté onion in three tablespoons of olive oil on low to med heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. In the meantime, dice cauliflower, zucchini and carrot make sure your pinto very small cubes, also known as brunoise.
  4. At 10 minute cooking mark, add wine to the frying pan with onion and garlic and bring the heat to high. Let the mixture bubble away for about a minute and a half. While it’s bubbling away, heat a small saucepan to medium/high.
  5. Now add two cups of vegetable stock to risotto base, stir through and cook for 4 minutes on medium heat.
  6. While that’s cooking, add Macadamia crumbs to the second saucepan and toast on medium to high heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds to prevent burning. When golden brown, add butter, garlic and a pinch of salt. Let the butter dissolve and once bubbles start coming up, take it off the heat and put aside.
  7. Now add flour water mix to risotto base and stir through. By this stage the sauce should start thickening and reducing. Add diced cauliflower and carrots first, cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the zucchini. Stir in 1 tbsp of butter and Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir for a further two minutes or until all Parmesan cheese is dissolved and you have a creamy, thick soup consistency risotto. It won’t be as starchy and sticky as a normal risotto but should be pretty close.
  8. Serve in bowls drizzled with some Macadamia burnt butter mix, ground black pepper and some extra Parmesan cheese.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings: 2

vegetables diced for paleo risotto
Brunoise vegetables ready for cooking.

paleo vegetable risotto burning_butter
Take off the heat as soon as the butter start bubbling, it will keep cooking on its own.

paleo risotto cooking

Waiting for the Parmesan cheese to melt and incorporate into the risotto.

paleo risotto with vegetables
So much awesome in this dish!

I have a few other ideas for different vegetable based risottos, which I will of course trial and shoot for the site. What’s your favourite risotto combo?

Enjoy, Irey x

  1. Sounds delicious! However, I don’t have a lot of time on my hands so often do an oven-baked risotto – any suggestions on how to do this in the oven?

    1. Hey, Because it’s not made with rice but with diced vegetables instead, I don’t recommend doing it in the oven as you need to stir the sauce to thicken it. With rice, we’re kind of relying on the starch in the rice to just do its thing and that’s why we can do it in the oven. The good thing is that this vegetable based risotto doesn’t take long because we are only cooking vegetables slightly to keep them a little crunchy. My time saving tip here is to use a food processor to chop up the vegetables.

  2. Definitely want to try this recipe! Just wondering how well it keeps and reheats – could you have leftovers for lunch the next day?

    1. Hey Lachlan,

      I should update the post with some dairy-free subs ;). If you’re super strict and completely dairy free, you can omit the cheese and it will still be fairly thick through liquid reduction and gluten free flour as a thickening agent. You can use ghee (clarified butter which is all fat) instead of regular butter and perhaps something like an egg or some cashew butter to thicken the risotto. I will have to trial a 100% dairy free version.

      A little on Parmesan cheese: dairy like yogurt, kefir and hard aged cheeses have been fermented long enough to eat up all sugars so won’t have any lactose left, so it’s a good alternative for the lactose intolerant. Doesn’t remove casein protein through, unless it’s a ricotta cheese. Depending on your goals and sensitivities, a bit of aged Parmesan is a good dairy option.
      A little on butter: butter is typically accepted in Paleo cooking as it’s about 80% saturated fat with almost no lactose left and the amount used shouldn’t cause any harm unless you have a serious dairy intolerance. But again, ghee is a good substitute as it tastes so rich and buttery.

      Hope that helps :) Let me know if you try it without dairy.

      1. Oh, I agree it’s a great paleo meal and certainly meets my parameters for that.

        I was asking cause we’ve been discussing veganism for philosophical reasons lately and I’m very keen on exploring ways I can do that while sticking to paleo! This looks like just the right dish. I’ll have to experiment and let you know.

        1. Get ya! In that case no ghee or cheese but try some cashew butter. You can even grind some cashews and mix with a little water and olive oil to make a smooth paste.

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