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Vegan risotto

Hey Hounds,

I've got a vegan coming to dinner Christmas night (heaven forfend! And he drives a BMW, with leather seats, gadzooks!) But mine is not to question, mine is to supply chow.

For starters, I'm thinking of porcini risotto. I have wonderful vegetarian porcini stock cubes from Italy, so that takes care of my liquid. I'll use olive oil instead of butter (gasp). And I will pass some grated parmigiano around for my fellows of the non-vegan persuasion.

My question is, anyone got any other suggestions for making this an acceptable, if not an outstanding, risotto?


- Sean

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  1. "porcini stock cubes?" why not use the liquid left over when rehydrating the dried porcini's instead?

    2 Replies
    1. re: bitsubeats

      Yes, that's what I do. But I think that for a more complex flavor, you might want to use some vegetable stock as well. Marigold vegan stock powder is very good (if you don't have homemade) if you can find it. Also, don't forget the white wine!

      1. re: bitsubeats

        Because they are vegetable stock cubes (with the complex flavors that this implies) with an overriding flavor of porcini. Of course I will also use the liquor from re-hydrating the dried porcini.

        But that still begs the original question..

        - Sean

      2. Little bit of lemon juice to bring out the flavour of the mushrooms. Lemon seems to make mushrooms mushroomier somehow. Depending on how you are serving you could serve with lemon zest as the garnish. (That is if you can actually use one of those zester things - I just seems to get mush rather than nice pretty strings!) Or if you have fresh porcini you could fry a couple of nice slices from the middle of the mushrooms so that they get a little brown and use them.
        I like my porcini ravioli with a sage beurre noisette, I wonder if there's some way of having a little nutty note without using butter hmm...

        1. Even if you don't use them in the risotto itself, you could brown some button mushrooms in olive oil and add some chopped onion - the object would be to get some great brown fond in the pan to deglaze into your cooking liquid.

          Also, I like thyme and sage and scallions with mushrooms - you could add fresh thyme leaves and ribbons of sage and chopped scallion tops just at the end...

          and ditto on the lemon, ali patts.

          1. With wild mushrooms, I prefer thyme and rosemery to sage for the herb component.
            Great of you to accomadate your friend. Sounds like it will turn out delicious.

            1. Thanks, all. I like all of these suggestions, particularly the lemon zest.

              I will pass around parmiggiano for the non-vegans at the table.

              - Sean

              1. This time of year I would add some butternut squash, cubed. I had this at a resto in Chocago and the combo was outstanding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfood

                  One of my favorites in porcini, pureed roasted winter squash, and sliced red italian frying peppers, which I sautee with the onions (or shallots). I like the idea of roasted squash cubes instead of puree, though!

                2. Vegetarian risotto is not daunting. Have a pot of hot liquid (water, vegetable stock or V-8) with a ladle next to the vessel in which you're gonna make the risotto. Make a soffritto (sauteed onions, green bell pepper, celery or fennel, and garlic) using olive oil. Add the arborio rice. Stir well. Add 1/2 cup of Marsala or Madeira. Stir well and let the spirits be absorbed. Add the liquid a ladle full at a time, stir until absorbed before adding another ladleful. Etc. Just before the risotto is finished, toss in some defrosted petite peas or a combination of defrosted peas and carrots.

                  Sean, if your making an Italian dish like risotto, the closing is 'Grazie mille', not what you said.

                  Buon appetito!

                  Buon natale e felice anno nuovo!

                  Suo amico, ChiliDude

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChiliDude

                    Grazie a voi, ChiliDude! And thank you for correcting my Italians. I live with a 9 and 10yo who are both Italian, and these are two words I'd like to hear a lot more from their lips!

                    Tanti auguri!

                    - Sean

                  2. Oh, forgot...mushrooms could be part of the risotto. My wife will not eat mushrooms, so I do not add them to risotto when I make it.

                    1. I like to make my own roasted veg stock (time permitting) for risotto. I have made vegan risotto for a lot of folks, and most of the time, they love it (even without putting cheese on top of theirs). I use both the stock and mushroom cooking liquid.

                      I love fresh porcinis (only had the luck / good timing to get some once or twice), but I like morels better for dried mushrooms in risotto. I usually try to use some sort of fresh wild mushroom (chanterelles are usually easy to get, at least here), and occasionally use some cremini mushrooms as well. As you probably know, usually you'd saute the mushrooms separately (if you're putting mushrooms themselves in) and then add them for just the last 15-20 minutes of cooking or less. I usually saute them with olive oil, garlic, wine, and salt / pepper ahead of time, then leave them covered, and add them for the last bit of cooking.

                      I like to throw in some chopped baby spinach at almost the very end (so it ends up with just a tiny bit of bite) in mine.

                      I really like Milanese style (with a little saffron dissolved in some of the stock).

                      1. My duck legs are braising. I have everything ready for the vegan risotto 'milanese'. I'm all set for a nice cold bottle of champagne to round off the evening.

                        Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, 'Hounds.

                        Thank you.

                        = Sean

                        1. I'm a bit late to this thread, but I always like a little truffle oil drizzled over the top of a risotto that includes mushrooms. Earthy! ;)