Risotto is an amazing dish. What a great risotto recipe demands in time and attention, it rewards with super satisfying flavor. If you’ve been looking for a vegan risotto recipe that will really impress you and any guests – vegan, vegetarian, fishatarian, flexitarian, fleshatarian — you found it!
The cashews and splash of soy milk lend a wonderful creamy, nutty flavor. The spice and herb mix promise a fantastic array of taste with every bite. I strongly recommend using fresh herbs for the best flavor.
Be aware that risotto needs to be stirred almost constantly while cooking. Also, the amount of liquid needed and the time to cook will vary depending on the cooking temperature and rice. Always add more liquid gradually, cook it down patiently, take your time.
And if you don’t like mushrooms but love risotto and other Italian dishes: You can easily substitute all kinds of other vegetables! (see Variations below)
Now, I’ve been living in Germany for over a decade. It would be impossible to write a vegan cookbook of recipes based on travels and life abroad without a tribute to mushrooms collected in the forest. Just about every German I know can tell nostalgic stories of combing the woods for wild mushrooms as a child.
The first few times I went mushroom hunting with German friends, I was so confused. Which were edible? Which might send someone to the hospital? (Or perhaps to a temporary mental realm described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Achtung: Those cute red ones with white spots (Fliegenpilze) are not what you’re looking for!)
I have learned a lot from watching others. But I still don’t collect mushrooms relying on my own knowledge of the funny things. Besides, it’s so much more fun running around the woods with other adults and kids.
After my first mushroom collecting adventure with friends Tamara, Felix, and their daughter Esther, they invited me for risotto dinner using our collected mushrooms. Now, Felix lived in Florence, Italy for much of his childhood and cooks up awesome vegetarian Italian dishes. Tamara, an original Berliner, is also a fantastic vegetarian cook who specializes more on German traditional and amazing casseroles. There was no way I was turning that invitation down! My introduction to collected mushroom risotto was decidedly Italian-German (or German-Italian, depending on how you view things.)
Other friends in Berlin have invited me for risotto dinners, and as usual, I always hang out in the kitchen to help… and spy, of course. There’s always so much to learn. Especially from others who’ve also lived abroad for work or studies and have their own exported cooking secrets to share!
Cashew Mushroom Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes
serves 3-4 / time 60 min
1 cup + 1 Tbs / 200 g arborio rice
3-4 cups / 180-220 g fresh mushrooms washed, chopped small
3-4 cups / 700-1000 ml vegetable stock (or water + 2 Tbs veg broth powder)
1/2 cup / 120 ml soy milk
1/2 cup / 120 ml white wine
1/2 cup / 90 g cashews coarsely ground / crushed
1/2 cup / 30 g sun-dried tomatoes chopped small
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 shallots finely chopped
1 tspn rosemary fresh, chopped
1 tspn thyme fresh, chopped
4 sage leaves fresh or 1/2 tspn sage dried
1 tspn black pepper ground
1 tspn salt
pinch nutmeg ground
2 Tbs vegan margarine
2 Tbs olive oil
chives fresh, chopped for garnish
parsley fresh, for garnish
Mushroom and herb sauté:
- Chop, soak sun-dried tomatoes with 2-3 Tbs warm water in small bowl.
- Clean, dry, chop mushrooms.
- Rinse, chop rosemary, thyme, sage.
- Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large sauce pan on medium high heat. Add mushrooms, drizzle lightly with olive oil, mix well.
- Add pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage. Add sun-dried tomatoes + soaking water. Sauté, stirring regularly about 5-7 min.
- When mushrooms are nearly cooked (and probably half the size) turn off and remove from heat. Cover.
- Heat margarine + 1 Tbs olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.
- Add garlic, shallots. Fry until lightly caramelized, stirring regularly, about 5 min.
- Add rice (dry). Mix well, coat with oil mix, lightly fry, 2-3 min.
- Add wine slowly, stirring constantly, cook until grains absorb most liquid, about 5 min.
- Add 2 cups broth (or 2 cups water + veg broth powder), stir slowly, near constantly, on medium low, 10 min.
- Add ground cashews, soy milk, nutmeg. Mix well, continue stirring frequently.
- Continue to simmer, stir, adding small amounts of broth/water as needed (another 1-2 cups, gradually) until rice is cooked, liquid is reduced / absorbed, desirable texture achieved, about 35-40 min total.
- When rice is done (test by taste or mash with fingers), turn heat to low, add mushroom-herb sauté, stir in gently, cook 1-2 min. Turn off heat, cover until ready to serve.
- Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, and ground black pepper.
Dried spices may be used in place of fresh. Add a few threads of saffron for the last 15 min of simmering for an exotic touch. Add 1/2 tspn red chili flakes or 1 sliced red chili to herbs in mushroom sauté for a spicy bite. The mushrooms can be replaced with other chopped vegetables: cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, to name a few. Adjust sauté time and water amount accordingly. Vegans addicted to nutritional yeast flakes and those obsessed with vitamin B12 are hereby allowed to add 1-2 Tbs nutritional yeast in the final cooking stages for an extra cheezy flavor boost.