I don’t make risotto often, mostly because of the amount of work involved. Whenever I make it, I picture a plump, old-world Italian woman with her hair wound tightly into a bun, sweating over a large, steaming pot of rice, methodically churning away until the mixture resembles something close to risotto.
Usually I reserve this sort of labor for the colder months, when staying inside is obligatory and I don’t feel like running away from the stove. But recently I stumbled across this recipe for vegan asparagus lemon risotto, and I thought I would give it a try. Asparagus is the vegetable du jour, and I was intrigued by the vegan aspect of the dish. Usually, risotto contains butter and thick soup stock–so I wondered how this version would turn out.
Although I’m somewhat skeptical of vegan recipes in general, I would highly recommend this one. Sometimes, I feel like vegan dishes are trying to imitate the “real thing”–i.e., the buttery goodness of rich cakes and cookies, or the creamy texture of a thick pasta sauce. But this recipe doesn’t try to be something it’s not; it just leaves out the butter. And after an hour or so of arm-turning (you might want to wind your hair into a bun), you’ll have a delicious dinner, coveted by vegans and non-vegans alike.
Vegan Lemon Asparagus Risotto (from here)
- 1 bunch of asparagus spears (15 to 20), trimmed and chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (you may not use it all, but have it handy anyway)
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the asparagus spears and blanch for about two minutes, or until they’re tender but still have some crunch. Remove them from the pan and run under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and onions and cook for four minutes, or until the onions are getting soft. Add the garlic and cook for another three minutes.
- Add the rice and heat it in the saucepan, stirring constantly, for about two minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the white wine, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and cook, stirring gently and vigilantly, till the white wine has been absorbed.
- Add a cup of stock to the pan and cook, stirring as needed, till the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding stock in 1/2- to 3/4-cup amounts, stirring each time until the stock is absorbed. You may not need all five cups of broth to make the rice creamy and soft, but you can expect to use most of it. When the rice is tender but still has some chew, stir in the nutritional yeast and thyme, along with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the blanched asparagus into the rice and heat through. Serve.