Yes, friends, you read that blog title correctly…it says VEGAN Mushroom Risotto. I know my love for cooking with butter, cream, and animal fats of all kinds does not go unnoticed when one peruses through my blog, but I do have an appreciation for specialty diets that goes back to my college days when I studied nutrition. There are many benefits to eating a meatless or animal free meal once in a while, even if you don’t do it as a lifestyle. It can save you a little cash, help you keep your figure, and can be a good thing for the environment.
I used delicious Bertolli Classico Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to give this gorgeous dish it’s flavor. They really enhance the earthiness of the mushrooms and the rosemary, making them more intense and fragrant.
We’ll go over the details here in a minute, but I just have to show you how beautifully this actually turned out.
What is truly amazing is that this dish was incredibly creamy, delicious and satisfying. It had that full-bodied, luscious flavor that I thought could only be achieved with dairy and animal products.
I ate this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner yesterday. My seven year old son Luke ate two servings. My husband ate this and had no idea of it’s vegan make-up. Success!
I think risotto is a great dish to start with when creating a vegan meal because of the inherent creaminess that occurs with the proper cooking of the rice. The starches in the Arborio rice create such a luxurious texture, that any butter, cheese, or cream added into the non-vegan version just play second fiddle anyway.
It also helps that I caramelized the vegetables so that they were more like candy than anything else. Let’s talk about that.
I selected Crimini and Shiitake mushrooms for this dish. The Criminis looked particularly plump and wonderful at the store, and I just love the unwieldy shape of the Shiitakes. I asked the produce guy at the store to dig some fresh ones out of the back room for me. He was really nice, but I’m sure he wondered about my priorities in life considering that it was eleven o’clock on a Friday night.
I put the mushrooms in a dry skillet, let them sweat down a bit, before adding the mahogany balsamic vinegar, letting it caramelize and cling to the mushrooms. I then coated them in a bit more olive oil, and dusted them with minced, fresh rosemary.
Oh goodness me, did those onions caramelize well in the olive oil.
The trick to risotto is the method of cooking which involves adding stock a little at a time while constantly stirring, so the grain absorbs the liquid, plumps, and releases it’s starches. Contrary to popular belief, risotto isn’t difficult, it is just a dish that can’t be rushed.
I stirred in a bit of vegan cream cheese at the end for some extra decadence and finished the dish as I do so many others, with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and a hearty drizzle of olive oil.
I have the very simple instructions needed to make this dish in the printable below. This is one you will want to try for sure!