Monday, April 26, 2010

"You're pretty proud of yourself, aren't you?"

I was thinking I should do an everyday vegan post to make sure I wasn't creating an illusion that vegan cooking is an all day event. I'm having a few friends over on Friday for dinner before seeing an encore screening of the movie Holy Wars at our church. It originally played at this year's local film festival and the director is coming back for this showing Friday. Overall it should be a great night from start to finish.

So I had been brainstorming things to cook for dinner on Friday and risotto crossed my mind. Actually, a better description would be that it came to me, and then stuck there...all day. Since I've never made risotto before I thought I'd better try a run through tonight to avoid any Friday night calamities. I also thought it would go well with fish (and roasted carrots), which gave me a great opportunity to finish off the last bit of tilapia I had in my freezer.

If you caught that slip there your suspicions are correct. Fish is not vegan. My diet hasn't been 100% veganized yet primarily because I've been working on finishing off some non-vegan foods in my pantry and freezer. But there's only one thing standing in my way after tonight, though. Me and those stinkin' MorningStar sausages I posted about a few weeks back. Ironic?

Luckily, if I ever find myself missing those sausages I can just stir myself up a pot of this risotto! A+! I taste tested the risotto to decide if it was finished or not and the "Mmmmm" from my lips and the grin on my face must have been ridiculous because my roommate looked at me and said, "You're pretty proud of yourself, aren't you?" Whether you make my version or not, if you want to get more into cooking definitely give this dish a shot. It's a relatively simple meal to make, but it carries this air of sophistication that will make you feel accomplished. I also like that it forces you to not read a recipe, but go with your gut. I think the biggest leap between a recipe follower and a chef extraordinaire is having the confidence in your own intuition and taste buds to make a delicious meal.

I looked through a few recipes to get the gist of the risotto concept, but didn't follow one what so ever - though I was tempted. Therefore the recipe below is a Kristy-original. But I highly encourage you to disregard everything I type below and create your own risotto-original, which I'm now calling "Risotto-O's".

Mushroom and Broccoli Risotto
Serves 4-5 as a side dish

~4 cups vegetable stock, heated
1 small onion, diced
2 "glugs" EVOO (~2 Tbsp)
dash salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large handful mushrooms, chopped
1 cup arborio rice (what makes risotto Risotto)
3 "glugs" dry white wine (if you forced me, I'd say it was 3/4 cup)
2 cups broccoli (thawed/warmed if frozen)

Warm the vegetable stock in a pot on a back burner of your stove. Meanwhile, heat EVOO in a large, deep skillet and add onions and a dash of salt. Saute the onions until they begin to caramelize and then add in the mushrooms and garlic and saute for another 30 seconds or so. Make sure the oil isn't so hot that your garlic will burn. Add arborio rice and wine and stir consistently for about 1 minute. The wine will start to infuse into the rice and become very fragrant. Go ahead and pour a glass for yourself at this point.

From the pot on the back burner, add in one ladle full of broth and stir every couple of minutes until most of broth is absorbed. Add in another ladle full. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked through. You'll be able to tell when it's getting close because it starts looking more and more creamy. You may or may not use all of your broth, so go by your sense of taste, not by how much broth you used. If you plan on adding any extra veggies do so 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the broth adding process. Sooner for heartier veggies, later for more delicate. My broccoli was par-cooked so I added it with my last ladle of broth.

If you're being all fancy-pants you could garnish with rosemary, sliced and toasted almonds or green onions.

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