Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

I tried risotto for the first time in California while visiting my parents this past June and loved it so much I had to make it for myself. Traditionally risotto is made with cheese and white wine, but I opted to make a lighter version that still has the same creamy texture and amazing flavor. I garnished mine with toasted pumpkin seeds for an added nutritional boost. Pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and copper, and also contain plenty of zinc and protein! Plus, they add a nice crunch that contrasts the creaminess of the risotto.

Risotto is usually made with arborio rice, which is a type of rice I had never cooked before. I was a bit surprised to find that when cooking risotto that there's a bit of a technique involved. It sounded a little intimidating, but it turned out to be pretty easy, just how I like it! I recommend eating this dish right away as the consistency will thicken if re-heated the next day. But if you don't mind a thicker risotto, it would make a delicious packed lunch! 

To get the cheesy taste without the dairy, I used nutritional yeast, which is deactivated yeast that is sold in flakes and has a nutty, cheesy taste. You can find it at Whole Foods or any health food stores. I've even seen it at a few regular grocery stores as well.

Ingredients (Makes 3-4 servings):

  • 1 cup uncooked arborio rice*
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 8oz of your favorite mushrooms, chopped (I used crimini)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil or oil of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Dried herbs to taste. I used oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, and red pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/4 loosely packed fresh basil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

 

Method:

  • Pour vegetable stock in a pot and heat and let it simmer
  • In a large pan or shallow pot, saute garlic in coconut oil until fragrant. Add onion, asparagus, and mushrooms and cook until soft and juices are being released
  • Add arborio rice, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and dried herbs and stir
  • When liquid has been absorbed, add 1 cup of heated vegetable stock. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring frequently so that the rice cooks evenly and doesn't stick.
  • When the liquid has been absorbed, add more vegetable stock. Repeat until all of the stock is gone, stirring frequently. This takes about 15-20 minutes. The rice will take on a creamy texture as it cooks.
  • Add nutritional yeast and fresh basil if using and cook on low for a couple more minutes
  • In a small pan add pumpkin seeds and heat on medium-low until toasted. Add as a garnish when serving the risotto

 

My fiance absolutely loved this dish and told me that it is easily one of his favorites of all the meals I've served him (and I'm cooked him MANY different dishes). He is difficult to impress at time so the compliments meant a lot! But what's not to love? It's satisfying comfort food made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. Enjoy!