Today we have risotto made the traditional way with unconventional ingredients. Tender mushrooms, asparagus, and leeks are tucked into a creamy, rich bed of rice – all without any animal products. Remember, though, that just because something is vegan and gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you! Consider this a treat to be enjoyed on occasion.
What’s a vegan alternative to delicious, salty, savory parmesan cheese? There is a somewhat controversial ingredient that one can find in specialty food stores and some supermarkets called nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’. It is born in a lab from inbred Saccharomyces cerevisiae stocks kept hostage for propagation. It is manufactured en masse in bioreactors before vitamin fortification (including B12) and drying into futuristic-looking food flakes. And it is perfectly good for you. But I think some people still take issue with what it is because it’s not the most sustainable of food products. To others, the use of nutritional yeast is like using Accent in any kind of cooking. That is, it is often considered a short-cut in building flavour.
The delicious, nutritious culprit.
This recipe doesn’t need nutritional yeast, in case you can’t find it. But I think it makes a great addition to what would otherwise just be mushrooms, margarine, and rice. It adds a touch of umami and a little bit of sourness to cut down on the heaviness of the dish. It is also a great vitamin B12 booster if you are vegan since it is the one thing that the balanced modern vegan diet lacks.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Mushroom, Asparagus, and Leek Risotto
Serves: 4, generously
Time: 1 hour
- 8 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
- 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 12 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
- 6-8 stalks asparagus, cut into bite-size chunks
(or 14-16 small stalks, i.e. if asparagus is not in season)
- 2 medium-sized leeks, green parts discarded and white parts thinly sliced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup vegan white grape juice or white cranberry juice
- juice of 1/2 lemon
(OR, replace grape/cranberry juice and lemon juice with 3/4 cup vegan white wine)
- 2-3 Tbsp vegan margarine
- 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- salt, to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- some chives, finely chopped
- In a pot over low heat, warm up the broth and keep it warm for step-wise addition to the risotto.
This was generic grocery store brand organic vegetable stock.
- In a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat, sautée the mushrooms and asparagus in 2 Tbsp oil with the garlic. Cook until the mushrooms have lost their moisture and darkened, or 3-4 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and asparagus (and garlic) and set aside.
You can see the steam coming up from the mushrooms sweating it out.
- In the same skillet or pot over medium heat, fry the leek in 1 Tbsp oil for 3-4 minutes to soften them.
- Stir in the rice to coat with the oil and toast slightly.
Primed with oil and deliciousness.
- In a small bowl, mix the grape/cranberry juice with the lemon juice, then pour into the rice. (Or, simply pour vegan wine into the rice). Stir the rice continuously until all liquid is absorbed.
- Add the warm broth to the rice 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently after each addition until the liquid is absorbed.
- Repeat Step 6 until the rice is cooked to al dente, or softer if that’s how you prefer it. Be patient and keep stirring! If you run out of broth, use hot water.
All expanded and gooey and mmmm. I like mine a bit softer than al dente.
- Turn off the heat and fold in the cooked mushrooms and asparagus.
- Fold in the margarine and nutritional yeast. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve topped with chives.