Vegan Mushroom Risotto, Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Roast Sweet Potato and Raw Dessert
This mushroom risotto is a favorite recipe in our home. Dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid lend a deep, earthy, flavor. Fresh mushrooms, if available, add a satisfying texture. Barley works excellent here, if you’re not averse to gluten. It has less calories, more fiber and more iron than rice – although a bit less protein and more carbs.
Risotto night is a great excuse to open a bottle of white wine. Whatever you’re drinking will work, as long as it’s not on the sweeter side. My favorites are Italian Soave, un-oaked Chardonnay, White Burgundy, or Sauvignon Blanc - I’d stay away from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Vinho Verde for cooking.
Since you'll be standing at the cooktop tending to the risotto (with your left hand, glass of white in the right, right?), the best approach to side dishes is roasting. Get the oven nice an hot, around 425F. Before starting the rice-cooking, prep a cast iron pan filled with halved, seasoned brussels sprouts. Get an oiled sheet pan ready to go with a layer of sweet potato slices, again, all nice and seasoned up.
Whatever you decide to throw in the oven, consider that once you start the risotto, you'll have about 45 minutes until serving time. Working backwards, figure you'll need 30 minutes for the sprouts, 15 minutes for the potatoes, and time placement in the oven accordingly. When everything is ready, turn up the broiler and toast up a halved baguette with olive oil and garlic, if your family likes bread as much as mine does!
Earlier in the day, around 4pm, while the kids were snacking, I prepared this frozen dessert with things I always have around: bananas, coconut oil, lemon juice, raw almonds and pitted dates. It was so easy, and my son thought the "banana ice cream pie" was so delicious. He couldn't believe I told him to eat as much as he wanted (3 servings, by the way).
Mushroom Risotto (Vegan)
(Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)
Time: 45-60 minutes
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups hot water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup yellow or white onion, diced
1 ½ cups pearl barley or Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
5 cups organic vegetable stock (or 1 32 ounce box (4 cups) plus 1 cup water)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (shiitake, cremini, button, oyster)
1. Rinse the dried mushrooms in a cold water bath a few times and drain. Soak in 2 cups of hot water while prepping ingredients. Also fill a small saucepan with vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then lowering to a simmer. Keep the warm stock and a big ladle close to the risotto pan.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan or stock pot. Cook onions over medium heat 5 minutes until they soften, but not browned.
3. Add the rice or barley and stir to coat with oil. Cook 3-5 minutes until it starts to toast. Quickly stir in the white wine. Raise heat to medium-high – risotto cooks best in a nice hot pan.
4. Remove dried mushrooms from the liquid and coarsely chop them. Add these to the pan, along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid.
5. As the rice completely absorbs the liquid, stir in a ladle or ½ cup of stock. Stir frequently, and don’t let it get too dry before adding more stock.
6. Meanwhile, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Cook the mushrooms about 8-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When they become tender, add them to the risotto pot.
7. Continue to ladle stock into the pot. When it runs low, taste the risotto for texture. Some like an al-dente risotto with a chewy texture, we like ours well cooked and softened, which takes a total of 40 minutes give or take. If your risotto needs to become more tender after 25-30 minutes of cooking, add another cup of water or a bit of mushroom liquid to the small stockpot over low heat. Keep adding small amounts of liquid until the risotto meets your desired texture.
8. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Author: Deena Mehta (adapted from Mark Bittman’s RoastedBrussels Sprouts with Garlic Recipe from the New York Times)
Total Time: 30 minutes
3 C Brussels Sprouts
1 T olive oil
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 T lemon juice
1 T aged balsamic vinegar
2. Heat olive in a large (10”) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and season with oregano, red pepper, garlic, lemon juice salt and pepper.
Roasted Sweet Potato Slices
Author: Deena Mehta
Total Time: 20 minutes
2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and thinly sliced (1/8” thick)
extra virgin olive oil
*optional spices (none, some or all of the following):
smoked or sweet paprika
Preheat oven to 425F.
Toss sweet potato slices with oil and seasonings. Place in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast 10 minutes. Turn each slice and roast another 5-10 minutes, checking frequently to remove any that have browned early, and cook until blistered and toasted, but not black.