Risotto. It sounds kinda fancy but it’s about as easy to make as a box of mac and cheese once you’ve done it a few times. Promise.
When we started eating more whole, fresh foods both brown rice and quinoa became a staple part of our meals and before long I was alternating between them almost every other day. As much as I love both of them a plain pot of grains can get a little boring night after night.
I’ve been experimenting with simple ways to doctor up humble grains and risotto is really the perfect example. It transforms rice into a creamy, comfy meal bursting with flavour that can be topped with just about any fresh seasonal vegetables.
Traditionally, to make risotto, you would stand over a pot for about 40 minutes constantly stirring but quite honestly what mom has time that??? None that I know and definitely not me. So, like most recipes, I take (major) short cuts and make the cheat version. In this case I just stir vigorously for about 30 seconds only about three times. Doable right?
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
5 cups (approx. 1.25 L) vegetable broth (if your broth comes in 1 L containers, feel free to avoid opening another container by substituting 1 cup water for 1 cup broth in step 3)
1½ cups brown arborio/short-grain brown rice
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (dairy-free option: 3/4 cup nutritional yeast)
½ cup dry white wine, optional
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced (dairy-free option: coconut oil)
2 teaspoons tamari (for extra flavor, optional) (tamari is simply a Japanese soy sauce that can often be found wheat-free)
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Possible toppings: steamed, grilled, sautéed or roasted fresh seasonal vegetables (mushrooms are delicious!), sprouts, fresh greens (i.e. arugula or spinach), toasted nuts and seeds (how to toast nuts), extra parmesan, fresh herbs (i.e. parsley, cilantro, mint)
Pictured toppings: asparagus, arugula and chives
1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat until simmering. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, then add the minced garlic. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, until the onions are well browned.
2. Add 4 cups broth to the same pot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer on low for about 30-35 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally – vigorously – for about 30 seconds 1-3 times throughout the 30-35 minutes.
4. While the rice, onions and garlic are simmering prepare your sautéed, grilled or roasted veggies.
5. Once rice is tender pour in the remaining cup of broth, the Parmesan, wine, butter, tamari and salt. Stir vigorously for 2minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Served, top with a veggies and any other optional toppings (see above), extra sea salt if desired and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.