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What flavors of risotto are best without cheese, cream or butter?

amoule Feb 9, 2014 06:55 PM

I've invited the new neighbors for dinner. She can't eat dairy products; I'm on a risotto kick.

What risotti are delicious without cheese, cream, or butter?

I'll throw out a dairy-free tip. I was fortunate to stay at The Hotel Danieli in Venice last autumn at ate at the Terrazza restaurant a couple times. I had a risotto served with crunchy breadcrumbs on top. They had been shredded from fresh bread (almost 1/4 inch in size) and crisped in butter. The contrast between the creamy rice and the crunchy breadcrumbs was spectacular. I'm sure it could be done with olive oil as well. Sadly, I don't remember what flavor the risotto itself was.

  1. v
    valerie Feb 16, 2014 07:37 AM

    It might be a little late for the OP but I've made this risotto before when my son couldn't eat dairy. It's pretty good and cheese can be added at the table.


    1. Ttrockwood Feb 15, 2014 08:26 PM

      Mushroom risotto made with red wine as half the liquid

      Butternut squash or kabocha with veg stock and fried sage garnish

      Beet risotto is such an amazing color, chopped fresh herbs ontop with a sprinkle of walnuts

      Roasted tomato risotto using half tomato juice half veg stock, stir in sun dried tomatoes and roasted cherry tomatoes,a spoon of pesto and basil garnish

      1. prima Feb 15, 2014 05:21 PM

        I often make a mushroom, leek, olive oil risotto, using white wine as part of the broth.
        I also like beet risotto, which can be made with olive oil.

        Another option is to make a spanakorizo- Greek style spinach and rice. I often add dill and other greens, as well.

        1. j
          jjjrfoodie Feb 10, 2014 12:42 PM

          I do a roasted garlic, spinach and mushroom risotto all the time.

          While I personally finish with butter and sprinkle at serving with parm cheese, you could finish with olive oil for sure.

          The roasted heads of garlic (smush the cloves out of course) add depth and sauteed/browned sliced mushrooms added near the end of cooking add umami.
          The spinach keeps it somewhat healthy but also adds color. This one uses white wine which adds a pinch of sweet and tang.

          If you want crunch do a quick panko and olive oil toss (can even add a herb) on top of each finished bowl and run under the broiler/salamander to make up for lack of cheese.

          It's yummy.

          1. l
            Londonlinda Feb 10, 2014 11:30 AM

            Mushroom, dried and fresh. Soak some dried mushrooms and add with the chopped fresh ones, and soaking juice to taste.

            1. Karl S Feb 10, 2014 09:53 AM


              1. d
                DowntownJosie Feb 10, 2014 04:33 AM

                How about trying a paella, chorizo and chicken or shrimp, and finish it with some aioli. I also love making fideus, it is similar to paella but made with noodles instead.
                You could also make a shrimp risotto and finish it with chorizo/tomato vinaigrette.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DowntownJosie
                  amoule Feb 10, 2014 08:28 AM

                  Oooo .. your ideas are delicious! I love paella! I was thinking of a first course risotto, but maybe I'll change the plan. Thanks.

                2. j
                  JTPhilly Feb 9, 2014 08:34 PM

                  Arborio rice has a great creamy texture when prepared as a pilaf - many traditional risotto recipes are finished with cheese but do not need to be.

                  Much of your flavor base in a risotto recipe is built with the trinity and the stock - while I love to make cheesy risottos (and stuff leftovers with more cheese for arancini) the traditional risotto milanese does not use all that much cheese most of t he creamy comes from the arborio - salt and a touch of umami are what the parmesan finish adds. Perhaps nutritional yeast could work as a finish (I am speculating as I never tried the stuff but friends at the co-op swear by it) or just a good crunch of sea salt. the cheese is good but you can use risotto in place in almost any pilaf recipe and it will be good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JTPhilly
                    Ttrockwood Feb 15, 2014 08:11 PM

                    Nutritional yeast is an amazing sub for parmesan, lots of umami flavor (also amazing on popcorn!)

                  2. linguafood Feb 9, 2014 08:12 PM

                    Peas? Shellfish, like shrimp or lobster? If you went with seafood, you wouldn't want to use parm anyway.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: linguafood
                      amoule Feb 9, 2014 08:17 PM

                      Good point about seafood and cheese.

                      I can hardly wait for peas to show up in the market - I love, love, love risi e bisi.

                      1. re: amoule
                        HillJ Feb 10, 2014 08:30 AM

                        Wouldn't you still be using butter though?

                        1. re: HillJ
                          amoule Feb 10, 2014 11:16 AM

                          I think replacing butter with olive oil would work.

                          1. re: amoule
                            HillJ Feb 10, 2014 11:59 AM

                            If you are subbing olive oil for the butter I would recommend a small batch to see if you enjoy it. I didn't. Made the rice slimy instead of creamy & rich.

                    2. juliejulez Feb 9, 2014 07:53 PM

                      This one is very good... you could easily leave out the butter (just use olive oil) and cheese I think http://ellysaysopa.com/2011/12/14/chi...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: juliejulez
                        amoule Feb 9, 2014 08:14 PM

                        That really makes a full meal!

                      2. a
                        ahuva Feb 9, 2014 07:50 PM

                        I make a mushroom risotto that is dairy-free - I use margarine or smart balance and olive oil to saute the onions and mushrooms and toaste the risotto, and I don't add any cream or cheese

                        1. s
                          Springhaze2 Feb 9, 2014 07:44 PM

                          Do a basic google search for dairy free risotto recipe. There are a bunch of them out there.

                          Here are some examples:




                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Springhaze2
                            amoule Feb 9, 2014 08:13 PM

                            Thanks for all those links. I'm not familiar with the dairy-free sites. The lemon-shrimp and the mushroom look particularly good.

                          2. sunshine842 Feb 9, 2014 07:22 PM

                            I think I'd find something else to make -- risotto would just be rice without the parm.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sunshine842
                              amoule Feb 9, 2014 07:44 PM

                              You make a valid point.

                              1. re: sunshine842
                                Robin Joy Feb 10, 2014 08:46 AM

                                A seafood risotto can be fine with no Parm, IMO. Especially if a splash of vermouth or a few shavings of fennel are involved.

                                Those who want it could just add at table.

                                Edit: I see that linguafood has already mentioned this. My bad.



                                1. re: Robin Joy
                                  amoule Feb 10, 2014 11:14 AM

                                  A pointer to a Jamie Oliver recipe is always welcome.

                              2. ipsedixit Feb 9, 2014 06:57 PM

                                Roasted butternut squash.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  magiesmom Feb 9, 2014 07:00 PM

                                  Yes , squash, but even better than butternut, kabocha, which is much more flavorful IMO.

                                  1. re: magiesmom
                                    sisterfunkhaus Feb 15, 2014 04:31 PM

                                    You could serve brown butter and parm on the side for this one. It's one of our favs.

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