Risotto, a Northern Italian rice dish made with the short grain Arborio Rice, is a perfect rib-sticking dish for anytime of year, but I love it particularly in the fall and for the holidays. Risotto may seem intimidating. You’ve heard it takes a lot of time. Well, it takes some time, but if you can stir, you can make risotto. And in less than an hour you can make enough for a feast or to last for the week.
This Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook. We just substitute olive oil for the butter and leave off the parmesan cheese. By itself, risotto is so creamy no one notices the difference. In fact, Lori declares this tastes just like non-vegan risotto. With this version, however, her stomach doesn’t get that heavy, queasy feeling she recalls from eating non-vegan risotto in the days before she adopted a plant-based diet.
Once you have the basic cooking process figured out, you can experiment by substituting peas or other greens, such as kale or spinach, for the asparagus. Or try red wine in lieu of part of the stock. Just like any rice, your imagination is the only limit with risotto.
- 7 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/4 ounces (about 1 3/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms broken into pieces
- 4 TBS olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1 bunch (about 2 cups) chopped asparagus
- 1/2 - 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot, heat vegetable stock to barely a simmer. Cover and keep on low heat.
- Meanwhile, place the broken dried mushrooms in a heat proof bowl like Pyrex.
- Heat 2 cups of water to boil.
- Add the boiling water to the mushrooms, cover, and set aside.
- In another stock pot, add the olive oil and onion and cook over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes until just translucent.
- Lower heat on the onions to low.
- Add the arborio rice to the sauteed onions and stir until all grains are coated in the oil.
- Add one cup of heated stock to the arborio rice.
- Stir the arborio rice continuously until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add another cup of heated stock and repeat the process until half the stock is absorbed.
- Take the soaking mushrooms and pour the broth and mushrooms through a fine mesh sieve, retaining the liquid.
- Rinse the mushrooms in tap water to remove any grit.
- Add the mushrooms to the arborio rice and stir.
- Take the retained mushroom broth and pour through a cloth covered strainer into the arborio rice.
- Stir the mushroom broth in with the arborio rice until it is absorbed.
- Continue adding the second half of the vegetable broth, one cup at a time, until it is absorbed.
- Once all the liquid is absorbed and the arborio rice is creamy and tender, turn off the heat.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Add the chopped asparagus, stir, and let sit for 2-4 minutes until the residual heat has just cooked the asparagus.
- Add the salt top taste and pepper.
- Have your stove set up with two burners going, to the left and right, one for the heated stock and one for the arborio rice.
- Use a ladle to transfer one or two scoops (about a cup) to the arborio rice at a time.
- It's okay to pause your stirring from time to time to attend to other things, like the mushrooms.
- Just be sure you have enough liquid in the pot so the bottom won't scorch.
- The instructions, as written, require some confidence in the process to step away from stirring the rice to drain and rinse the mushrooms. You can also soak, drain, and rinse the mushrooms first, and set aside the mushrooms and broth at the beginning. This takes longer, but is easier, especially the first time.
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