For the new year Jen and I decided to kick up our vegan diet a notch and go full-on, whole-food plant-based (WFPB). Being vegan was just becoming too easy (also, I had to wean myself from french fries somehow and this seemed like a great time). We’re sticking to this every day of the year with the exception of the first of the month and special events (potlucks) and holidays (Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, etc.).
So far, we’ve successfully made it through Day One with the help of this delicious and very simple risotto. This creamy recipe is 100% WFPB (until you add the optional, but totally worth it, BeyondMeat chicken strips at the very end).
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (risotto rice)
- One 38 oz. container of vegan vegetable stock
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- One 6 oz. package of triple washed organic baby spinach
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
- One package of BeyondMeat grilled “chicken” strips (defrosted)
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large non-stick cooking pan add 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock and bring to a boil (you can also use a tablespoon of EEOV here but that’s not on our diet … damn it). Add the chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté until soft (about five minutes, stirring). Stir in the arborio rice and cook for an additional five minutes over medium-high heat, coating the rice (you’ll start to hear popping sounds … since this recipe is poppin’).
Pour in one cup of the vegetable stock and lower the heat to medium. Stir constantly and with purpose. From here on out you’re going to be feeding the rice the vegetable stock and stirring (adding ingredients along the way). It’s an excellent arm workout.
Once the first cup of liquid has been absorbed, add a second cup (see what I mean?). After the third cup, add the chopped basil and the spinach (the spinach is going to look huge in the pan but will cook down as you introduce it to the rice and stock). See what I mean?
Once the spinach has been completely incorporated, add another cup of vegetable stock. This entire “feed the risotto vegetable stock” process will take approximately 40 minutes (and you will end up using the entire carton of stock). After the final drops of vegetable stock have been added, stir in the nooch until full incorporated (you should have a creamy, cheesy texture at this point). If it seems like it needs more liquid, add a little water or squeeze a half a lemon into it (citrus gives any dish a burst of flavor and freshness).
Test the texture of the rice (perfect, isn’t it?) and finish off by stirring in the whole package of torn BeyondMeat chicken strips into the finished risotto. Heat for an additional five minutes until the BeyondMeat has warmed up. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want … top with some vegan parmesan and a sprig of basil. Your friends are going to be so impressed by you: 1) You made a delicious gluten-free vegan risotto; 2) You topped it with a sprig of basil which is called “garnish” and you’ve never done that before.
They’re all impressed and, after dining on this dish, they’ll all want to #GoVegan.