I love this recipe, and it’s because of Gordon Ramsay.

Right around 2005 when Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay started airing I learned what risotto was. Even if the show was just in the background I’d hear Chef Ramsay yelling about the risotto not being done correctly. I finally tried it when my parents took me out to a fancy Italian restaurant in Yaletown, and loved it.

I also saw one episode of The Next Food Network Star and a woman made risotto to serve to Chef Wolfgang Puck and it wasn’t saucy, so he went back to the kitchen to teach her how to do it. She was so embarrassed and in tears, and I never forgot that mental note about the texture.

I never thought risotto could be made vegan, but when I found a recipe early in my veg journey and used Daiya Foods’ Mozzarella Style Shreds with it, it became a keeper. Thanks to one of my event clients who brought Top Chef Canada Season 1 winner Chef Dale Mackay to cook on their stage, I learned that risotto is one of those recipes that you have to put some love into — you can’t just leave it alone to cook. But it’s still a meal that doesn’t actually take very long, and it makes me feel like a pro every time.

Even if you’ve never tried risotto before I suggest you try this vegan version and see how you like it!

Ingredients:

1/4 c vegan butter, divided (I use Melt or Earth Balance)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 c arborio rice (I use Italissima)
1/2 c white wine (I use cooking wine)
3 1/2 c vegetable broth
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c sliced mushrooms, sautéed in about 1 tsp of vegan butter (I use about 8 cremini)
1 1/2 c shredded vegan cheez (I use about a half a package of Daiya Foods Mozzarella Style Shreds)
Optional: 1/4 c fresh chopped basil, parsley, chives*

Melt half the butter with the olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion’s soft. Add the rice and stir constantly for 1 minute or until the rice is well coated. Pour in the wine, 3 cups of the veggie broth, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring constantly so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook the mushrooms at this time, if you haven’t already. Stir the mushrooms in, then the cheese. Add herbs, then the remaining 1/2 c broth and butter until creamy. Serve immediately.

*I typically use just fresh parsley and that alone’s great, and if I don’t have any fresh herbs, a bit of dried basil’s fine as well. I suggest all 3 fresh, if you really want to impress guests.

Tips:

  • The original recipe for this said the wine was optional, but most risotto dishes are made with wine and it just makes it taste right.
  • Salt was originally in the recipe but I omitted it as the mushrooms, cheez, broth, and butter are salty as is.
  • While risotto is supposed to be served right after cooking, I batch cook, so naturally the texture doesn’t stay saucy and the rice will absorb all the liquid after awhile. However, I find all the amazing flavour is still there, and it makes for a great, porridge-like Winter dish!

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