08 August 2012

Vegan Risotto

We're back from Philly, Shana's school has started, and mine is getting so much closer (with the appropriate "Itotallydidn'tgetenoughdonethissummerohdearthesemesteriscoming!" feelings of panic and anticipation). However, since school hasn't officially started for me and Shana's in her first week of craziness and commuting, I took the opportunity to make vegan risotto.


Risotto is an awesome hearty comfort food that is infinitely customize-able. It's easy, delicious, impressive, and fairly cheap, it just takes a long time and a lot of stirring. Thus, this might be a great meal to serve to dinner guests (every omnivore I've fed it to has loved it!). Most people are impressed by homemade risotto because they don't know how easy it is to make. Honestly, I think the only reason people don't make it often is because it takes a while (about 45 minutes) and most of that is spent stirring.

Finally, if you're at all into the science on why risotto works the way it does, Alton Brown devoted an episode of Good Eats to rice, much of which was about risotto. All you really need to watch is from 1:20 through 5:06, when he explains about different lengths of rice grains. The whole episode is interesting, if you've got 20 minutes. 

Broccoli Risotto
My recipe is a slight variation from Vegan Dad's.

Ingredients
1-2 T. olive oil
2 c. short grain rice (see Helpful Hints below)
7 1/2 c. veggie broth (I use Better Than Bullion "No Chicken" for this)
1/2 c. white wine (I use a chardonnay)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
2 T. margarine
1/2 c. nutritional yeast (see Helpful Hints below)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Heat broth until warm on stove, keep over low heat.
2. In a large-ish stock pot (I think mine holds 12-15 cups of water), heat the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent. You do not want them to brown, so turn down the heat if they start to brown.
3. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two, then add the rice. Ideally you want the rice to begin to look translucent around the edges.
Click to see this larger, where you can see some of the grains have an opaque white spot and a more clear area.
4. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of broth and stir. Stir regularly until the the rice kind of stays where you stir it, meaning it doesn't go back and immediately cover the bottom of the pot.
5. Add the wine, stirring regularly until the rice stays (like above).
6. Continue to add broth in 1/2 to 3/4 c. increments, stirring regularly. No need to stir constantly, but regularly is a must.
7. With about 2 c. of broth left, add the broccoli to the pot. Continue to add liquid and stir as before.
8. When all the liquid is gone, add the margarine, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, stirring well to combine.

Helpful Hints
  • Arborio rice is generally what is sold as "risotto" rice, but any short grain rice will do if your grocery store doesn't carry Arborio. I can only find Arborio rice at one grocery store here in town; not even the "Italian Market" carries it!
  • Nutritional yeast is a great thing to keep on hand in your kitchen. It is an inactive yeast (meaning it will not make bread rise), is a pale orange in color, and has a somewhat "cheesy" taste. Nutritional yeast can be found in the Natural Food sections of well-stocked grocery stores (Wegmans has it!). You're most likely to find a brand called "Red Star" in a canister the size and shape of a parmesan shaker. If not, you may find it in bulk (often this is where you'll find it at Whole Foods, with the supplements). Nutritional yeast is also good sprinkled on popcorn. Plus, if you follow me long enough, I guarantee you'll use this again!
  • Don't leave out the margarine in this recipe. The combination of the margarine and nutritional yeast are what mimic the dairy often found in non-vegan risotto recipes. This can be made soy-free by using a soy-free vegan margarine (Earth Balance makes one). 
  • Freeze your leftovers! When you heat them up (from frozen or just from the fridge), add a little bit of water as the rice will keep absorbing. 
  • Finally, if you don't want to use broccoli, use other veggies! Really anything you have on hand will work. You can even use leftover already-cooked veggies. If your veggies are already cooked, add them at the end, after you've added all the liquid (you may not need the last 1/2 cup or so). 
Serves 6 (or does great leftovers).

2 comments:

  1. Can't wait to try this! I did a vegan mushroom risotto the other night and though we liked it, I'm on a search to improve and perfect.

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    Replies
    1. This is by far the best vegan risotto I've had, though I've certainly not tried all of them. If you try this one, hope you like it!

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