Vegetarian Garden Risotto
Few dishes as popular or as versatile as risotto. This delicious “old world” rice dish combines the best of two food worlds… Satisfying carbs and decadent fats. In addition to these, you get the rich flavors of the stock used during cooking, as well as any of the hundreds of ingredients that match so perfectly with it. Today we’re welcoming spring with a vegetarian risotto recipe that harnesses the hearty umami-ness of mushrooms and the vibrant colors and flavors of fresh vegetables. This veggie risotto is so hearty, you won’t even miss the meat.
The history of risotto starts with the history of rice in Italy, where it was first introduced by Arabs during the Middle Ages. The region was well-suited to growing short-grain varieties; thus, this starchy ingredient thrived in agriculture and in cooking. Risotto was born in Milan, which had been under Spanish rule for almost two centuries at that point. Slow-cooking dominated the culinary landscape of the area, with Ossobucco being a long-time favorite dish.
Families and chefs utilized the same slow-cooking principles with the local rice, emphasizing the rich flavors of the region, as well as the spices traded there.
Even centuries later, people still make the dish from the same core components: rice, stock or broth, onions, butter, wine, parmesan and spices. However, this versatile base allows for an almost endless variety of end results.
This easy vegetarian garden risotto recipe should allow you to comfortably know how to cook risotto at home. Then you can explore creating your own versions with scallops, lobster, truffles, veal, mushrooms, squid ink, snails, duck, sausage, pumpkin… Just about anything you can think of!
Arborio Rice, 1-1/2 cups dry
Vegetable Stock/Broth, 32oz.
Onion, 1 cup sliced & minced
Garlic, 2 large cloves smashed & minced
MUSHROOMS, 3 cups sliced
ASPARAGUS, 1lb chopped into 1/2″ pieces
Leek, (just the white part) finely sliced
White Wine (dry), 1/2 cup
Lemon, Zest and Juice
Parmesan Cheese, 1/4 cup grated
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Keep warm.
- In a separate heavy saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil over moderately low heat.
- Add onion and garlic to the heated oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant. (about 3 to 5 minutes)
- Add the dry rice into this onion and garlic mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.
- Pour in the wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly. (about 1 minute)
- Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, along with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.
- Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow broth to be absorbed before adding more. Cook until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking. (about 18 minutes)
- While the rice is cooking per the above, prep all veggies, zest the lemon and squeeze it’s juice.
- When almost all stock has been added (keep about 1/2 cup in reserve) and mostly absorbed, add the vegetables. Gently fold in the mushrooms, asparagus, and leek into the rice, along with half of the lemon zest and about 2 tbsp lemon juice. Let them all cook until heated through, and flavors combine.
- Finally, stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Add a bit more broth if the risotto seems too thick.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper, and garnish with the remaining lemon zest.
- Serve your vegetarian risotto immediately in shallow soup bowls, and dig it!
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