My heartfelt thanks goes out to Sweet C’s Designs for helping me out with today’s blog post while I am in Washington, DC for the United Nations Foundation Global Issues Fellowship & Shot@Life Champion Summit. I know you are going to love this! I personally can’t WAIT to try it! Take it away Courtney……..
Hi Good Things readers, I’m Courtney from Sweet C’s Designs. I’m so excited to be here sharing one of my favorite one pot meals with you! This vegetable risotto is a delicious, easy meal that your whole family will love. It is creamy and rich, without any dairy – it’s a great vegan meal that is perfect for Lent, and a great filling dish that won’t break a diet. It’s also really adaptable – you can add in meat or any type of vegetables you like to try different flavors.
While this recipe only contains 6 ingredients, and doesn’t require a lot of skill (or cleanup!) it is a bit labor intensive. Basically, prepare to stir a pot for about half an hour. It’s a little work, but really, anyone can make this meal! Every time I’ve served this for friends or at parties people think I slaved away forever or have some magical recipe – but it is so easy to make, my almost two-year-old daughter did all the work for the risotto pictured (I cut all the vegetables, but she did all the stirring.) This is a great way to get kids involved in cooking. When I get my kids to help make dishes with vegetables, I find that they actually will eat more of it because it is something they helped to make!
While arborrio rice is a little more expensive than plain white rice, it is essential to use a short, fat rice like arborrio or this won’t taste very good. This dish is very inexpensive because it makes a lot, is great as a leftover, and you can add vegetables, meats or other items you already have on hand. It is a great pantry meal!
One-Pot Veggie Risotto
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small package cremini or button mushrooms
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
- 1 1/2 cups Arborrio rice
- 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
Start by dicing the onion, mushrooms, and zucchinis. To dice a zucchini, I usually find it is easiest to cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise again. You can then line the zucchini quarters up and cut them into 1/2″ pieces quickly and easily.
In a large pan (I like to use an enameled dutch oven), heat 2 tbsp olive or coconut oil until shimmery. Add onions and zucchini and cook on medium until soft. Adding a few pinches of sea salt will help them release moisture and get soft more quickly.
When the veggies are soft, add the arborrio rice and stir to coat with oil. I like to “toast” my rice with the vegetables for a few minutes on low heat because I think it gives the rice a nice, toasty flavor. Just be careful to not burn the rice. If it sticks a little to the bottom of the pan, just add a little more oil.
From this point out, you’re going to be adding small amounts of stock to your pan and stirring a lot. I use low sodium vegetable stock for this dish – but if you don’t care about this being vegan, chicken stock is especially good in risotto.
Turn the heat to medium high, and add just enough stock to cover the bottom of the pan (a little over 1/4 cup of stock.) Stir until the stock is completely absorbed by the rice – about 3-5 minutes.
When I first made risotto, I added cream at the end because the recipe I was using didn’t get creamy like risottos I had tried in restaurants. It was runny, and the cream just made it look thick without actually thickening it – so gross! What I didn’t know is that the creamy texture wasn’t actually from cream – it is from breaking down the starches in the rice! That is why stirring almost constantly is so crucial to this dish. It also helps it cook much faster – so don’t skip the stir.
After rotating between adding stock slowly and stirring for 25 minutes, you will notice your risotto is getting very thick. Take a quick taste with a clean spoon, and see if the rice is still crunchy.
I personally like risotto with just a little bite to it (it is especially good to have the risotto al dente if you will be having this as leftovers – overcooking can make it quite mushy when reheated.) Your risotto will also continue to thicken and soften between taking it off the stove and serving – so it is better to have it just a touch al dente. If it is still VERY crunchy, add a little water or more stock and increase the heat, and stir until soft.
Serve hot, and top with a little grated parmesan if you’re not keeping it vegan.
Once you’ve tried this basic recipe, don’t be afraid to change it up! I have recipes for a chicken and veggie risotto, a jambalaya risotto, a butternut squash risotto, and an antipasti risotto on my website. Some of my favorite variations come from just using up ingredients we have on hand!
If you have fresh vegetables, meat, or seafood you need to use before they go bad, risotto is a great and easy meal! Try adding bell peppers, carrots, fresh or frozen peas, shrimp, chicken, steak cubes, squash, eggplant – the sky’s the limit! You can also add in white wine for a traditional risotto, or some heavy cream, cheese, or cook it with butter instead of olive or coconut oil. I keep a big box of arborrio rice and plenty of stock on hand at all times so I can toss in different ingredients and make our family’s favorite meal at a moments notice!
I’d love to hear some of your variations!