basic vegan risotto

Risotto feels so luxurious and elegant, but there’s nothing particularly fancy about it. The ingredients are cheap and the preparation is easy.  At the end, though, you’re left with a rich, creamy dish fit for a damn queen. This recipe substitutes olive oil for the traditional butter and vegan parmesan for real parmesan (or Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you’re a stickler for the rules).

The creaminess of risotto comes from using high-starch rice, such as arborio, and frequent stirring, which loosens the starch so that it can be absorbed into the cooking liquid where it acts as a thickener. Without lots of starch, it’s hard to get a creamy risotto without adding creamy ingredients.  On the other hand, a risotto made with high-starch rice gets super creamy and delicious with no extra creaminess needed.  I think I’ve said creamy enough, so let’s get to the recipe!

For 2 generous or 3 moderate servings

3 tbsp. olive oil


1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint mushrooms of choice (I used baby bella/cremini), sliced

1 c. high-starch rice

4 c. vegetable broth

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 c. vegan parmesan (optional; it was very delicious with and without, but it adds a bit of nutty cheesy flavor that I like)

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the broth on the stove until it’s simmering; reduce heat so that it is steaming.
  2. While broth is heating, heat olive oil in a saucepan and then add onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and stir until garlic almost browns.
  4. Add mushrooms and saute until browned. I like to cook the vegetables until there is a nice layer of crusty bits on the bottom of the pan because that adds some deeper flavor to the risotto.
  5. Once there is an abundance of crusty brown bits in the pan, add rice and toast until translucent.
  6. Add a few ladel-fuls of broth and stir constantly until rice absorbs all the broth. Then add more and stir until it’s absorbed. Repeat until rice is cooked al dente or until the broth is gone. This process will probably take about 20-25 min. Stir for pretty much the whole time. (Taste as you go to make sure that the rice is cooked the right amount! Sometimes you need a little more or less liquid.) 
  7. Once rice is mostly cooked, add paprika, basil, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until rice is done.
  8. Take off the heat and add vegan parmesan and stir until fully incorporated.
  9. Serve while hot (risotto is significantly better when it’s very hot), and enjoy! I garnished mine with a carrot top (lol I took it off right after the picture) so that it wouldn’t just look like a gross brown mush, but feel free to garnish with some fresh basil (or not)!

This risotto is totally enough on its own, but if you want to eat something else with it, I would recommend some sort of simply roasted vegetable, particularly green beans, broccoli, asparagus, or brussel sprouts. YUM!


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