Who ever said that Risotto needs to be made with heavy cream and parmesan!? This recipe is a great example how to easily veganise a traditional recipe while retaining its original characteristics - in this case the creaminess that is associated with Risotto.
My first attempt was based on Arborio rice, which is the rice usually used for Risotto because its high starch content contributes the the dish's creaminess. While that worked, I was not happy with having to use a white rice, so I experimented with whole grain rice, just to make the dish even healthier. I finally ended up using short grain brown rice, which I found not only to give me the same creaminess, but made the dish more flavorful. The only slight inconvenience one may find with the short grain brown rice is the longer cooking time compared to the white Arborio; this may be ameliorated by soaking the rice for 10 to 12 hours or overnight.
The short grain brown rice brand I used was from Lundberg, available at Whole Foods, but I am certain others will work as well.
Creamy Saffron Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Coconut Milk
- 2 small onions, approx. 4oz (120g), small dice
- 1 cup (200g) short grain brown rice, soaked overnight
- ¾ cup (200ml) white wine
- 1½ cups (375ml) filtered water
- one 14 fl oz can (410ml) coconut milk; this is a bit more than the 1¼ cups (400ml) required (see below)
- generous pinch saffron
- 3.5 oz (100g) Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stem removed and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup (40g) pine nuts, finely shredded
- olive oil
- In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sweat the onions with a pinch of salt on medium heat, until translucent.
- Drain the rice, then add it and cook for one minute (stir from time to time to prevent from sticking).
- Add the white wine and cook partially covered until almost absorbed.
- Add the water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 25 minutes . If you did not soak the rice before cooking use ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 120ml) more water (adding in as needed) and cook longer.
- When the water is almost absorbed, add ½ cup (120ml) of coconut milk and the saffron and continue cooking, still covered.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sauté the shitake mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper for about 3-4 minutes, until tender.
- When the coconut milk is almost absorbed, add another ¾ cup (180ml) coconut milk and cook on low heat for a few minutes; the rice is done when it is tender, or - if you prefer - still a bit firm.
- Mix in the shredded pine nuts, and gently mix in the Shiitake mushrooms.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve immediately.
Serve with Sauteed Shaved Fennel
or with any other vegetables, such as zucchinis, leeks, etc. Leftover Risotto can be stored in the fridge and reheated the next day; the left-over coconut milk is perfect to add to the Risotto just prior to reheating, because the rice tends to dry out a bit when reheated.