Those that know me, know that I love risotto. It’s a total garb-orator dish to me, taking in whatever scraps I have and transforming them into gorgeous comfort food within an hour. Being that it’s the holidays, I know that so many people struggle with the food restrictions of friends and family that may be popping by. Sometimes you can feel like, what’s a cook to do!? It’s not possible to make four different meals or something. This recipe is the answer, so don’t worry. My friend Kirsten is in the process of going vegan and is (I think) fully vegan now, so she was the perfect person to test my vegan risotto theories out on, since she had had my mushroom risotto prior to becoming a vegan.
This is a simple way to make a festive, comfort food meal that is fully vegan and without gluten contaminants, making it a double whammy for when you have one friend that can’t have dairy and another that can’t have gluten. This recipe, and risotto in general, is so often thought of as a really picky, fancy thing to make but I promise that it is not that hard. Your guests will still think you’re a rock star, though ;). Even better, you’re able to do this at a cost of $1.79 per guest which is basically unheard of for a holiday gathering meal!
Food notes: If anyone googles arborio rice and gluten you will see that it has a very high gluten content- but it is rice gluten, not the potentially harmful gluten we’re trying to avoid. Check out CeliacSyndrome.com for confirmation, which is where I check foods before I have a gluten free friend come over. Next note is, I am using Becel Vegan Margarine in this recipe’s suggested ingredients. In looking online, this is the replacement where I was most comfortable with the ingredients and that it was a large brand advertising as not only vegan, but gluten free. I’m not normally a proponent of margarine, but in this case it is widely available, not exorbitantly expensive, and meets varying dietary needs.
Vegan Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6 for $10.74 or $1.79 per person
1.5 cups arborio rice- $1.20
1/2 an onion- $0.12
2 Portobello mushrooms – $2.24
~12 button or cremini mushrooms- $3.54
Becel Vegan Margarine- ~$0.65
1.5 boxes of vegetable stock- $2.21
1/2 a can of stewed tomatoes- $0.44
1 roma tomato, chopped- $0.34
Optional: Vegan Parmesan (we didn’t use any because we didn’t get a chance to run to the special grocery store to get it, and it was still creamy and great. Read the packaging SUPER carefully if you have a gluten free friend coming over, it’s not worth making a friend sick.)
Optional: Red wine to deglaze the pan (1/2 a cup, add about 2$ to the costing if you do this)
Pantry: Thyme (fresh or dried), red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
This recipe is exactly the same other than the swaps as the mushroom risotto I made for my date night on a work night post earlier this year. Here’s a recap of how to make the risotto (step by step with night-before prep):
Step One: (the night before) Go on ahead and chop up all of your mushrooms and pop them in a plastic container, and then in a separate container chop your onion and garlic up, then take a ton of thyme leaves and put them in there as well. Pop those babies in the refrigerator, you’ll be thanking yourself tomorrow.
Step 2: (the day of) get your mise en place in gear- pull out your containers from the fridge, open a can of tomatoes and take about 1/2(and crush them), pour your wine in a measuring cup (if you’re using it), get your arborio rice in a measuring cup etc… get everything out and on the counter.
Step 3: Put your pan on medium, put in some olive oil and once it feels warm, dump in your onions and garlic and get them softening, stirring occasionally. At every step from this point forward, add a bit of black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Step Four: Once your onions and garlic are well softened, dump your arborio rice in the pan and stir it around. I’ve talked about this process of “toasting” your rice before, and I maintain it is pretty dang important. Make sure you still have a decent amount of olive oil and let it toast away (center white, edges translucent), and once it hits that place, deglaze your pan with the red wine or some vegetable stock.
Step Five: Let the red wine cook down, and then add your first shot of stock (or second, if you used vegetable stock). Once you add that, dump in your mushrooms. They need a bit of time to cook. Don’t forget what I said in step three about seasoning every step.
Step 6: Continue the process of adding stock, cooking it down, and then adding more stock, stirring and seasoning along the way. After about your second addition of stock, add in your tomatoes. If you have a spare fresh tomato kicking around, dice it and throw it in too. You won’t miss it too much if you don’t, though. Continue adding stock in smallish doses and stirring.
Step 7: Your risotto has got to be getting close by the end of your first box of stock and about 1/4 of the second box. Take a tiny spoonful of a few grains and test the doneness of your rice. If it still feels crisp on the teeth or sticks to your teeth when you bite on it, add more stock and continue on. Rice cooks at the speed it feels like so be patient.
Step 8: When your risotto is the perfect texture, turn off the heat and add in 1-2 tablespoons of the vegan margarine and the vegan parmesan if you want. Serve this up in bowls and enjoy with your friends.
Do you have a favorite meal to serve when there are varying dietary restrictions in your home? Please share them with me!