I confess, I used to love cheese. Back in the day, I enjoyed more than my share of pizza and I admit to having an affair with feta one summer. Risotto was something that was easy to make and scrumptious to eat because it satisfied both vegetarian and non alike. But that was then! Cheese really hurts me now and anything that hurts just isn’t worth having. While I don’t miss the cheese, I do love things with a creamy texture and that hint of salty goodness that pairs well with a great glass of wine and some fresh bitter greens. I toyed around with a few different rices and quinoa (quinoa is a great high protein sub for brown rice in this dish, BTW, though you have to adjust the liquid way down), and my kids like the brown rice the best both for the slightly chewy bite and the nutty flavor.
What’s nice is that this pan of delight, when dished up and on the table is about $1 a serving when you have the greens fresh from the garden and tomatoes a plenty! The indulgence is the Daiya, which at nearly $5.50 for 2 cups, is only a sometimes treat on my menu. If you haven’t tried Daiya yet I recommend it. It is the first vegan cheese I’ve had that melts well and stretches and doesn’t taste like glue! The Daiya cheddar is versatile and adds that bit of cheesy umph that some dishes need.
Great 1 cup add-in’s per your palate: diced mushroons, peas, asparagus, red pepper, artichoke, minced kale, spinach
Leftover risotto can be shaped into patties or croquettes, coated in gluten free breadcrumbs (or panko if you’re not GF) and baked in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Truly lovely served with artichoke hearts and raw baby spinach. Consider this a two-fer!
Enjoy! (and let me know what you think if you try it!)
Vegan Brown Rice “Risotto”
(40 min, serves 4-6 as entrée w/salad)
2 cups brown rice
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup Daiya Cheddar shredded vegan “cheese”
½ cup almond milk
pepper, to taste
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ cup fresh sage or basil, minced
Heat your olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion and garlic. Stir to coat with the oil and let them work over medium low heat for a few minutes. You will smell them and they will become soft without browning.
Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it with the oil, onion and garlic. Turn the heat up to medium high and pour in the white wine. Cook until the wine evaporates, then add 2 cups of broth. Stir well and leave the pan for a few minutes. You will be stirring frequently to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom or burn. However, this is not as labor intensive as traditional risotto because it doesn’t require constant stirring. Plan on adding 2 cups of broth, stirring and checking the pan several times before the next broth addition. You don’t want the rice to do dry in between additions of broth, so watch your pan and add the 2nd dose of broth while the rice is a bit saucy. I checked the pan every 8-10 minutes and that was perfect, but you will need to get a handle on your stovetop to know what is the perfect balance for you.
Add the 3rd and final dose of broth along with the daiya cheese and stir well to combine. The cheese will make the sauce very creamy. Daiya contains enough salt that you will not need to add additional salt.
After 10 minutes or so, check the texture of the rice by tasting a bite. If it is cooked, you can stir in the almond milk and shut off the heat. If it is not, continue cooking for a few more minutes, check it again and then proceed with the almond milk.
Season with pepper and serve topped with the tomato and herbs.
*To make this a great meal serve this alongside a salad of fresh greens. I especially love arugula and endive with this because they have such a bright bite to them!