Friday, December 10, 2010

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable." - Ina Garten

I came across this risotto recipe a few years ago via the "20-minute supper club" from I obviously have omitted the cheese. Although it isn't a vegan site, they do occasionally post easily veganizable recipes.

Risotto is frequently thought of as a cream-based dish.  While many risotto recipes call for cheese, it is actually the rice itself that produces the characteristic creamy consistency.  A starchy rice is used, typically arborio rice, and broth is added slowly as it cooks, stirring constantly.  This releases the starches from the rice, and voila: dairy-free creaminess is the result.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't have called this recipe a risotto.  It is atypical in that it uses short grain brown rice instead of arborio or similar rice.  It also cheats a little by adding all the stock at once instead of gradually over the cooking process.  The end product is still creamy, but slightly healthier variation on the old standby.  It is certainly not traditional, but a highly recommended comfort food for cool days.

Veganized Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto

1 bulb roasted garlic
1 cup finely chopped leeks*
2 cups short grain brown rice
2 cups peeled, diced pumpkin or squash
1/2 cup orange juice
4-5 cups vegetable broth
3 cups baby spinach (maybe try kale or other greens!)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

*Tip: leeks tend to have a lot of dirt between the layers, so chop first then rinse really really well in a colander to get all the grit out.

Roasting Garlic:
Preheat oven to 400.  Trim top of garlic bulb so the tips of each clove are snipped slightly.  Drizzle olive oil over bulb (skin and all) and wrap in foil.  Bake in the oven until soft (about 40 min).  Don't worry, you won't need the garlic til the end of the risotto, so you can start roasting the garlic when you start preparing the risotto.  When the garlic is done (and cool enough to handle), squeeze the bulb so that the cloves come out, discard skin.

Saute leeks over medium heat in olive oil til soft. Add the rice and stir til it is coated in oil and slightly translucent.  Stir in pumpkin and juice, increase heat to high.  When juice is nearly evaporated, add stock, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach leaves, roasted garlic and nutmeg.  If you're using kale or other greens that are a bit tougher than baby spinach you may wish to add them a little earlier on in the cooking process (5 minutes sooner).  Top with chopped walnuts and enjoy :)

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