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

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

February 27, 2017
sunflower seed risotto
Matt Rainey

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 fiber, and far more exciting than rice—take on a delectable new personality draped in a luscious sunchoke purée and gilded with a mushroom garnish. 

(Sign up for our FREE newsletter to get clever kitchen tricks, gardening secrets, and more delivered straight to your inbox!)


Sunflower Seed Risotto

Serves 6

5 large sunchokes, aka Jerusalem artichokes (about 4 ounces)
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

Related: How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds

1. Place sunchokes 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 sunchokes until smooth and season with salt.

2. Warm the sunchoke 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 sunchoke 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.