If I had to list 5 of my favorite things in life, it’d probably go a little something like this:
- Swimming in rivers
- Running on trails
- Writing beneath the trees
- Eating rice of any kind
While a majority of people would rank pasta as their starch of choice, I am ALL ABOUT rice.
From curries and stir fries to enchiladas and soups, rice is the mother of carbs, and one of my true loves.
While I typically prefer brown rice, because of both its taste and health benefits, there are some times where I throw caution to the wind and serve up some white varieties, like when I eat risotto.
My devotion to rice is how I fell in love with cooking when I was a kid. Beginning with rice-a-roni, I elevated my craft over the years to actually cooking, and began experimenting more and more. After binge-watching Hell’s Kitchen, where all the chefs seem to do is cook (fuck up) risotto, I was determined to conquer this elusive dish and see if it really is as good as it looks.
Long story short, it was, and I cooked it at least once a week.
Back then, my risotto was chock full of cheese and cream, and could basically cause a heart attack just by taking a whiff.
So, in celebration of how far I’ve come on my journey to physical and mental health (oh, and for my mom’s birthday of course…) I decided to revamp my risotto recipe to make it not only vegan, but healthy…terms that people sometimes think are synonymous.
Not only is it just as decadent and creamy as my original version, it doesn’t rely on cheese and cream for its deliciousness. The herbs and vegetable flavors are front and center, rather than acting as necessary additives for the dairy to cover up.
Creamy Vegan Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 cup merlot or your favorite red wine
- 1 container organic veggie broth
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh sage, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and cutting the ends off your asparagus, chopping them into fourths. Place on a baking sheet with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, and give them a shake to coat them evenly. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, bake for 10 more minutes, or until they’re soft, but still crunchy.
While asparagus bakes, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add sliced mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes more. Next, add the 1 cup rice and stir to incorporate everything. Cook rice with the veggies for another 5 minutes to toast the rice. Then, add the minced garlic, wine, and herbs. Stir constantly until wine is absorbed, and then add veggie broth one cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure each cup is absorbed before adding the next. Once rice is tender and cooked through, turn heat to low and prepare cashew cream.
In a blender, add your drained soaked cashews, about 1/3 cup of water (less if you want it thicker, more if you want it thinner, you know the deal), lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until mixture is creamy and no lumps remain.
Add roasted asparagus and cashew cream to the risotto and mix well to incorporate. Let sit together on low for about 5 minutes until everything is incorporated and warmed through.
This recipe will satisfy your craving for creamy indulgence without weighing you down and making you feel like you’re gonna pop a button off your jeans.
All you rice connoisseurs out there, try this baby out and let me know if you enjoyed devouring it as much as I did.