Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms And Asparagus

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Risottos have never really been my thing. All that butter and cream is just too rich for my system these days and I feel full uncomfortable and lethargic after eating it, however small the portion. If I were going out to dinner, risotto would never be something I would choose from the menu. I don’t like cooking it either. I find the whole process of making risotto tedious and time-consuming, so, as you might guess, I am not usually all that excited about anything risotto related.  But when I accidentally stumbled upon a baked brown rice risotto recipe at Cookie and Kate and a vegan version of risotto at Forks Over Knives, I knew that I could simplify the method and come up with a healthier dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free risotto for the thousands upon thousands of risotto lovers out there! I ended up making a convert of myself and I am so glad I did!

Gone is the cheese and butter but what remains is that creamy consistency that makes risotto the great love of so many of you!  Almost in spite of  my previous experiences with risotto, this version has become a fast family favourite. In this recipe I used mushrooms and asparagus to blend into the rice and I actually prepped a larger ratio of vegetables to rice than you typically see in risottos, but that’s the way I like it. You can certainly decrease the amount of vegetables called for if you prefer. You can also substitute different vegetables. This is sooo good! And, if I didn’t tell you that this risotto recipe was vegan, you most definitely wouldn’t guess! 

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Baking the rice is a great time-saver – it means you don’t have to stand by the stove and stir the entire time! You can bake any type of rice, but different rices require different baking times so adjust your baking times accordingly if you decide to use another type of rice. If you are using long-grain brown basmati rice, as I have here, the timing below should work without any alterations.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine**
  • ½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. Dry Sherry**
  • 2 tsp. Naked Coconuts (optional)*
  • 1 cups organic brown basmati rice
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Soak rice in double the amount of water and a tsp. vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse and strain.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat the vegetable stock and wine in an ovenproof saucepan until simmering. Keep on a very low simmer so that broth stays hot. (I make my own vegetable stock without salt, so use a low-salt or no-salt variety if your stock is store-bought).

Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add rice and onion and stir to toast the rice for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 more minutes and then add the minced garlic. Cook, stirring for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add a ladle of stock to loosen the rice and onions from the pan and then transfer everything to the oven dish with the simmering stock. (I use my le Creuset).

Cover, and bring everything to a boil. Place the pot in the preheated oven and bake until rice is tender and cooked through and the liquid is completely absorbed, about 50-60 minutes. In my oven it takes exactly 60 minutes but I always check it at 50 minutes to be sure. It’s a safe-guard – I’d rather give it a few more minutes if it needs more time than have it burn.

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While the rice is cooking in the oven, prepare the asparagus and sauté the mushrooms.

For the mushrooms, place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of water and when it sizzles, add the sliced mushrooms. Stir for 5-6 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water as it evaporates to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Season with a little salt towards the end – adding salt helps to draw more moisture from the mushrooms. When mushrooms have browned and reduced in size, remove to a small bowl and set aside.

To prepare the asparagus, remove bottom third of the spears by snapping them off. Discard. Chop the remaining asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Blanch the asparagus in boing water until just tender and bright green (about a minute). Set aside with the mushrooms.

When the rice is fully cooked, remove the dish from the oven. Pour in the almond milk, lemon juice and dry sherry. Stir thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is creamy. Stir in the mushrooms and asparagus.

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Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days.

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Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Notes

*Naked Coconuts is gluten and soy free seasoning that can be used in place of traditional soy sauce in recipes. However, it’s an optional ingredient.

**If you do not want any alcohol in the recipe, you could substitute stock for the wine or even the same amount of water cut with a few tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar. A good non-alcoholic substitute for sherry would be unfiltered apple cider. Removing the wine and sherry from the recipe won’t result the same depth of flavour, but the suggested substitutes will add sufficient acid and fruity enhancing notes to the risotto.

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