Crisper Drawer Risotto | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Twenty

Week Three: Budget Week
This week, we’re going to prove once and for all that veganism is affordable!

Risotto might not be top of mind when you think of budget meals, but hear me out. What better way to glam up the floppy carrots, wilty greens, and otherwise less-than-perfect produce languishing in your crisper drawer than by throwing it all in a pot of creamy, rich rice, a dish that’s more than the sum of its parts? Sure, you could make a stew or a soup or a chili, but risotto is just a little fancier, a little more elevated.

In my kitchen sink, crisper drawer, leftover-friendly risotto, I used carrots, okra, and kale that were past their prime. I chopped them all up small and cooked my rice in vegetable broth, adding vegan butter towards the end for extra richness, then topped my dish with roasted Brussels sprouts for added texture, nutrition, and deliciousness. A squeeze of lemon brought it all together, adding a little acidic punch to the savory dish.

I’ve provided a recipe below, but you can use it as a template for any ingredients that would otherwise go to waste (and waste your money). Peas, broccoli, carrots, squash… anything and everything can find a home in risotto with a little creativity. I left my flavors pretty basic, but you can fancy up your DIY risotto by cooking the rice in tomato sauce thinned with water, adding a splash of white wine, stirring in a couple cloves of roasted garlic, topping it with vegan parmesan, etc. Be creative and have fun! (And check out the recipe notes below for a few more suggestions.)

Risotto is NOT as intimidating a dish as many folks make it out to be, and it’s just about guaranteed to taste good no matter what you throw in it. (Just be sure to cook those grains until they’re soft.) And if arborio rice is not in the budget, try it with any short-grain rice: They are a fine stand-in for arborio if you cook ‘em low and slow with lots of liquid.

Crisper Drawer Risotto with Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 6-8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 – 2 cups chopped veggies (I used carrots, okra, and kale)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Optional topping:

  • 1 pint Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (cut into sixths if the sprouts are particularly large)
  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 415˚F and start heating about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat
  2. Toss trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts with a little oil, salt, and pepper, then tip onto baking sheet. (I don’t usually line my sheet; the oil prevents sticking and I actually like the near-burnt bits on my sprouts!) Place in preheated oven and set timer for 15 minutes.
  3. When the oil in the pot is just shimmering, add the chopped vegetables and cook for a couple minutes, then add the sliced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, just until the garlic begins to turn golden.
  4. Add the rice and stir so that the rice is coated with the oil, veggie, and garlic mixture. Add a cup of the vegetable broth and stir to combine.
  5. Over the next 20-30 minutes, keep checking the rice and adding more broth as it starts to get soaked up. Give the rice a good stir every couple minutes, but don’t feel like you need to stand over the pot the entire time. You might not use all the broth, and that’s okay.
  6. After the sprouts have roasted for about 15 minutes, use a spatula to flip most of them over. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until they’re as crispy as you’d like them. Turn off the heat and leave them in the oven. (If they’re too blackened, remove from oven and set aside.)
    Bonus! If the leaves of your sprouts start to burn in the oven, just scoop them out with your spatula and give yourself a little mid-cooking treat. They are like crispy little sprout chips.
  7. Taste the risotto as the rice begins to soften to test whether it’s done. Towards the end of the cooking process, add the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and any additional spices you want to try. Turn off the heat and stir in the vegan butter (if using).
  8. Drizzle with lemon juice, top with roasted Brussels sprouts, and serve right away.
Notes:
  • Use whatever veggies you have available. They likely won’t add a ton of flavor but will provide fiber and nutrients while bulking up the rice.
  • Increase the garlic to as many cloves as you’d like, or substitute with diced shallots or onions. Do try to use at least one allium, though!
  • If you want to cut down on the veggie broth (or don’t want to make too much and waste it), you can use hot water and just add a bouillon cube to the risotto to taste.
  • Feel free to swap out the crispy roasted Brussels sprouts for another roasted veggie (like broccoli) or something crunchy (like toasted nuts). You don’t absolutely have to use a crunchy, crispy topper, but I think it provides a really nice textural counterpoint.
  • The lemon juice at the end is non-negotiable! :)

Check out my Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts for another take on risotto, and share your favorite risotto recipe with me!

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Vegan risotto made with leftover veggies from your crisper drawer // govegga.com

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

With its slightly astringent bite, radicchio isn’t a vegetable I cook with frequently—truth be told, I’ve used it only a handful of times. Recently, though, I stumbled across a method for cooking it that promised to transform it into something much more palatable: roasting! I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself. What vegetable doesn’t benefit from a little olive oil and some time in the oven at high heat? Roasting radicchio brings out its sweetness, especially in the tender inner leaves. The outer leaves retain some of their bite, but those inner leaves practically melt in your mouth.

I served my roasted radicchio alongside a warm lentil dish that features one of my absolute favorite veggies: Brussels sprouts. I also added pomegranates for a textural contrast and a bite of sweet juiciness that plays well with the strongly flavored sprouts, and a sprinkle of pine nuts adds the finishing touch! I flavored my lentil dish with Trader Joe’s orange muscat champagne vinegar, a lovely mild vinegar that even I—a noted vinegar-hater—can’t totally dislike. If you don’t have it, though, feel free to use another light vinegar and a bit of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges
Serves two

For the radicchio:

  • One head radicchio
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced as finely as you can get it (or pressed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For the lentils:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils

For the dressing/salad:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange muscat champagne vinegar (or 1/2 tablespoon your favorite vinegar + 1/2 tablespoon orange juice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pine nuts for topping (optional but highly recommended)

Add the water to a medium sauce pot and heat on high. Preheat oven to 425˚. Prepare a short-rimmed baking pan by spraying it with oil or lining it with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the radicchio marinade: olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, and salt. Set aside.

Quarter the radicchio by trimming the woody bottom off and cutting the radicchio into four wedges. Using a pastry brush, coat all of the exposed surfaces of each wedge with the olive oil marinade. Place cut-side down on the baking pan and place in the oven while you prep the Brussels sprouts.

If the water’s boiling at this point, add the lentils, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Roughly quarter each Brussels sprout (or halve them if they’re particularly small). You don’t have to use uniform precision; just make sure each piece is roughly the same size. Add to a bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and paprika until well coated. Remove the baking pan with the radicchio from the oven and add the Brussels sprouts to the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then flip the radicchio quarters so the other cut side is down and give the Brussels sprouts a good stir. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts start to crisp up.

While the veggies are roasting, keep an eye on the lentils. When all the water is absorbed, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. Uncover it and let it sit, stirring the lentils frequently to cool them a bit.

After the lentils have cooled for about five minutes, drizzle in the dressing ingredients and stir until the lentils are well coated. Allow the mixture to sit while the veggies finish roasting.

Once the Brussels sprouts are crispy and the radicchio has wilted and darkened, remove them from the oven. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the lentils, top with pine nuts, and serve immediately with the radicchio wedges on the side.

~~~

What’s your favorite way to serve radicchio? Brussels sprouts? 

525,600 Minutes of Vegan Madness

Today is my one-year veganiversary. What a crazy, unpredictable, amazing 365 days it’s been – I went vegan, got a full-time job, moved to Madison, and essentially started a totally new chapter in this little life of mine. I feel so much more centered than I did a year ago, so much more comfortable with who I am and what makes me tick. I might not know exactly what I want to do with my life or what I want to be when I grow up or where I’ll be in 5, 10, 15 years, but hey – I’m enjoying the ride. And, as I’ve said before, being vegan is an essential part of that.

It can be difficult, I think, to really grasp how much one seemingly simple dietary decision might affect you and your life. But when it’s tied to something in which you believe so strongly – that nobody and nothing should suffer for your sake – how can it not make a huge difference? I’ve never been one to put too much stock in the idea of good energy or bad vibes or anything, but who knows – maybe eating a cruelty-free diet really does have some unintended, unquantifiable results. I can’t disprove that, so maybe I should give the idea a little more credence.

Anyway, how did I celebrate this special day? Well, I smeared myself with tofu and nutritional yeast and ran around naked, yelling about factory farms and how easy it is to get plant-based protein! …no, that’s a lie. Really I went to work, came home, ate some sweet potatoes, watched a Russian version of Anna Karenina, and am contemplating an early bedtime. Yeah, boring. I didn’t even bake myself a cake. But I did get my first raise at work! And yesterday I ate one of my favorite veggies EVER.

O M G.

I’m not quite sure I can express how ecstatic I was to get Brussels sprouts in our CSA share this week. And my wonderful roomie grabbed an extra bag, so I can enjoy double the sprouty goodness! I know they look a little burnt, but trust me – they’re just crisped to perfection, roasted with a little extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and a dash of pepper. Perfection, I tell you.

Anyway, I’m spent. Time to crack open American Gods and then get some shut-eye. Tune in tomorrow or Sunday for a super-exciting GIVEAWAY POST!

P.S. Pardon the lame/cliché RENT quote in the title of this post. It’s 11:00 PM; give a girl a break!