Oil-Free Vegan Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus
After my fantastic dinner in Annapolis at Osteria 177, I knew I would be craving their vegan Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus, the best vegan risotto I had ever tasted. (See my Travel and Restaurants post about Annapolis and Osteria 177 here! http://table-karma.com/restaurants-osteria-177-annapolis-md/)
I wanted to create my own healthier, guilt-free, oil-free version with all organic ingredients. I researched a number of different risotto recipes, finding that many called for chicken stock, many of them included meat, poultry or seafood, and all of them included olive oil and/or butter and parmesan cheese. Obviously for an oil-free vegan risotto, I needed to eliminate all oil, chicken stock, meat, poultry, seafood and cheese. The remaining essential ingredients, however, that most recipes had in common, seemed to be onions or shallots and garlic, Arborio rice, some kind of stock, some kind of vegetables, and herbs and seasoning. Some of them called for white wine.
I decided to use shallots rather than onions, garlic, organic vegetable stock, white wine, dried porcini mushrooms (get them here http://amzn.to/2x55uxU) and their broth, fresh cremini mushrooms, asparagus, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Assembling the ingredients took a couple of attempts because Whole Foods was out of every brand of Arborio Rice. After buying all of the other ingredients at Whole Foods, I finally found Lundberg Arborio Rice at my conventional grocery store, it was labeled as “verified non-GMO, but not organic. Lundberg Rice is known for use ecologically sound growing practices, and with all the scares about arsenic in rice, I feel safer using Lundberg than most brands. (get it here http://amzn.to/2xRz5ij).
Asparagus is traditionally a spring vegetable, but we are fortunate now, at least in California, to find it nearly all year around. This recipe can be altered to suit the season or your mood. As I was creating it, it was a cool morning, promising to be an unseasonably warm fall day, but I really wanted to recreate the same flavors of Osteria 177’s risotto with mushrooms and asparagus. Some alternatives for asparagus could be green peas, or butternut squash. I like keeping the mushrooms in the dish for the depth of flavor. Alternative mushrooms to use could be shitake, button or portobello (cremini are actually baby portobellos). I look forward to trying some alternatives—mushrooms, butternut squash and sage?
This dish was delicious, hearty and satisfying. Believe it or not, I ate this dish as soon as I finished it—for breakfast! (And later, for lunch.)
Serve this Risotto at a dinner party for your most discerning foodie friends– vegan and non-vegan. At Osteria 177, I loved adding side dishes of arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and sliced strawberries, roasted red bell peppers, hot crusty Italian bread, and a crisp white wine. No one will be feeling deprived when served this delicious Oil-Free Vegan Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus.
Here is how I made it:
Because I was using dried porcini mushrooms, my first step was to rehydrate the mushrooms. I had a 1 oz. package of dried mushrooms, which I added to a small saucepan with about a cup of water, enough to fully cover the mushrooms. I heated the water and mushrooms to boiling and then turned off the heat, leaving the mushrooms in the broth while I prepared the other ingredients. Get porcini mushrooms here http://amzn.to/2zZxLw1.
Next, I finely chopped 3 large shallots (about 1 cup chopped) and 6 small cloves garlic. I strained the porcini mushrooms, reserving the liquid, chopped most of the porcini and cremini mushrooms, leaving some of the pieces in larger slices. I like having the variety of having some larger mushroom pieces. I sliced the asparagus stems about ¼ inch wide, leaving the tips in larger pieces. Then, I finely chopped the bunch of fresh parsley, reserving some of the whole leaves for a garnish. I stripped the leaves from the stems of the fresh thyme, keeping about 2 tablespoons of the fresh leaves. I think the fresh parsley really adds a lot to the flavor of this dish, so definitely use fresh parsley if at all possible!
Using a large sauté pan on medium high, I heated about ½ cup of the vegetable stock, added the shallots and garlic, and liquid “sautéed” them until softened, about 5 minute. Since I was not using any oil, I needed to stir frequently and made sure not to burn the vegetables, adding more liquid as needed. This method can be used for any recipe calling for cooking onions/shallots/garlic in oil.
Once all the liquid was absorbed, I added all of the dry Arborio rice (one 16 oz. bag) ( get it here http://amzn.to/2xRz5ij ) to the hot pan and continued cooking, stirring constantly, until the rice was hot and made a crackling noise, slightly dry roasting the rice. At that point, I added 1 ½ cups of white wine, stirring until bubbly hot and most of the wine absorbed, and reduced the heat to medium/low.
Next, I added all of the mushrooms, and thyme, and some of the stock and reserved porcini liquid, salt and pepper, and continued stirring. The risotto needs to be stirred almost continuously, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan to avoid sticking or burning. I added small amounts of liquid, broth, and mushroom liquid, as needed. Continue cooking and stirring and adding small amounts of liquid. After the rice and mushrooms had been cooking for about 15 minutes, I added the asparagus and thyme and cooked for about 10 more minutes, stirring and adding liquid.
In order to achieve an al dente texture, I needed to keep tasting the rice periodically. The ideal finished texture is tender but still al dente. When the rice was the desired texture, I removed it from the heat, stirred in the parsley and a little more liquid, and served hot, garnishing with the reserved whole parsley leaves and fresh ground pepper to taste.
OIl-FREE VEGAN RISOTTO WITH MUSHROOMS AND ASPARAGUS
4 cup vegetable broth or stock, as needed—I used vegetable broth and the 1 cup of reserved mushroom soaking broth (see below)
1 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3 large)
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
One 16 oz. bag arborio rice
1 ½ cup dry white wine, (I used a California Chardonnay
1 oz. bag of dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, reserving the liquid
½ to 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped, reserving some in larger slices
2 cups asparagus, sliced ¼ inch, leaving tips larger
2 T fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley—chopped, but reserving some whole leaves for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms in about 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes
Heat ½ c vegetable stock in large sauté pan over high/medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring and adding more liquid if needed
Add rice to pan, cook and stir until grains begin to crackle. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine is mostly absorbed. Stir in stock (use some mushroom liquid also) to just cover the rice and cook until bubbly, stirring to avoid sticking.
Add the mushrooms and thyme, salt and pepper, and more stock/liquid. Cook, stirring often, adding more stock/mushroom liquid whenever liquid is just about absorbed, for 15 minutes.
Add the asparagus, and continue adding stock and stirring for another 10 minutes. Rice should be tender all the way through but still al dente.
Remove from heat, add a little stock and the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve hot and garnish with fresh ground pepper and parsley leaves.