Risotto. Pretty much my favorite meal. Ever. Let me count thy ways.
1. It tastes freaking delicious. There’s no way anyone can deny that.
2. It’s naturally gluten-free . Yes, rice and all rice products are gluten-free. If you don’t know, now you know.
3. It’s also VERY easy to make vegan without sacrificing flavor. Simply use veggie broth instead of chicken broth. It’s also still insanely creamy and flavorful without cheese or butter (hard to believe, but I speak the truth). It’s all about the stirring.
4. There’s wine in it and it’s absolutely mandatory you drink wine while you make it. Stir, sip. Stir, sip. Repeat. Perfection.
5. It’s impressive (but yet it’s not actually hard to make). Bf/hubby/gf/wife/fam/friends/Tom Colicchio/ whoever you’re making it for will be impressed. Guaranteed.
Okay, I think you get the point. I could go on, but I’ll spare you from too much more droning. I’d just like to add that although risotto is simple to make it does take time and patience (both of which I severely lack when I’m hungry). Thus I tend to I make it on a Sunday evening when I’m not feeling rushed (you can’t rush risotto) and can turn on some music, sip some wine, and actually enjoy the process. Trust me, this is the best method and not only will your guests be (#5) impressed but they will also be entertained (who isn’t more enjoyable after a few glasses of wine ?!).
*For all of my aspiring vegans out there or simply those trying to make healthier choices, risotto is also a safe bet to order at restaurants or when you’re traveling. Most places are able to modify the dish to make it vegetarian or vegan-friendly and you already know it’s gluten-free. And (#1) delicious.
Roasted Squash, Leek & Swiss Chard Risotto
adapted from Love & Lemons
squash (I used hubbard but any will do- butternut, acorn, delicata, etc):
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 small squash (about 2 cups) cubed
sea salt, pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup white wine (I used Reisling and it added a nice hint of sweetness)
1 cup organic brown rice
4-8 cups veggie broth (depending on how long it takes the rice to cook)
1-2 tablespoons earth balance butter
1 tbsp finely chopped sage
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bunch swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
1. Preheat oven to 425 and toss together squash cubes, oil, sea salt & pepper in a pan. Cook for approx 30 minutes flipping half way through.
2. Once your squash is in the oven start on your risotto. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and a bit of sea salt and pepper to the oil. Cook until the onion and leeks are translucent (but not browning), about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the rice and mix it together with the onions so the rice toasts a little bit (about 1 minute). Add the wine, scrape up anything that’s sticking to the pan, and let the wine simmer down for another minute. Pour yourself a glass and drink.
3. In a separate pot heat the vegetable broth over low heat. Add broth 1 cup at a time to the rice, stirring continuously. Each time the liquid cooks down, add another cup full. Because I used brown rice instead of arborio (arborio is the traditional rice used in risotto but I subbed it for brown, a whole grain loaded with fiber/vitamins/minerals) the rice took close to 8 cups of veggie broth to cook instead of the typical 4 (arborio absorbs liquid faster). I recommend putting a lid on the pot in between stirring to help it cook more quickly. Before you add the last ladle of broth, add the squash and stir to combine. *IMPORTANT- Generously season with sea salt and pepper periodically. I tend to do this with each cup of broth I add. *MORE IMPORTANT- Drink your wine.
4. Once risotto is done cooking turn off the heat and add in the chopped swiss chard, tbsp of earth balance, pinch of sea salt, pepper and chili flakes. Stir well- the chard will cook just by being mixed in with the hot risotto. Top with pine nuts, sage, rosemary and serve immediately with a green salad or roasted asparagus. And do I really need to remind you to drink more wine?
MLB (meat lovin’ boyfriend) loves any version of risotto I make but this one topped the charts for both of us. It was so creamy, decadent, and comforting. And it was even better as leftovers.