Vegan Green Risotto
A vibrant broccoli pesto gives this green risotto its hearty flavour. This warming plant-based midweek meal from Sophie Gordon is perfect for those changeable spring days.
One of my favourite springtime recipes! Risotto is a dish that keeps on giving, as it can be enjoyed all year round but tailored to the season. This recipe in particular is a great transition dish, giving you the warming comfort you need when it’s still a little fresh outside but incorporating the season’s finest greens, and finished off with an earthy, vibrant broccoli pesto.
|batch of broccoli pesto (see recipe link below)
|large brown onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
|leek, chopped lengthways, washed, roughly chopped
|cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
|approx. 1.5 litres
|vegetable stock (plus more hot water if needed)
|salt and pepper
|nuts, lightly toasted and crushed
|fresh spinach, washed, roughly chopped
|podded broad beans, fresh or frozen
|fresh herbs of chilli flakes
First make your broccoli pesto. You can do this in advance if you want, as it will keep in a jar in the fridge for about a week, especially if you’ve drizzled some olive oil on the top to help keep it moist.
For the risotto, heat your oil in a pan and fry the onion/ shallot and leek until they start to brown. You will notice that the pan starts to dry up, so add up to 4 tablespoons of water here if it is too dry. Add the garlic and continue to cook until soft.
Add the rice and stir well. You want to lightly cook this before adding liquid – you will notice the outside of the rice start to go slightly translucent.
Start adding the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Continue until you have added all the stock and the risotto is simmering nicely.
In a small pan, dry fry your nuts if they are not already toasted. I’d recommend keeping them whole for the frying and crushing them afterwards. Saves any smaller bits burning when frying. Place to one side.
Add the nutritional yeast and continue to stir. After about 10–12 minutes, add the spinach and broad beans. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes, until the broad beans are soft and the spinach has wilted. You don’t want the rice to have any bite, so be sure to test this too.
Stir in your broccoli pesto, as much or as little as you want. You’ll notice the rice turning slightly green from the spinach and pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve warm, sprinkled with toasted crushed nuts and fresh herbs or chilli flakes if you like.
Waste tips: You can substitute the broccoli pesto with kale pesto here. Either type of pesto can also be easily turned into a creamy pasta sauce. Leftover risotto makes the best arancini balls. For a healthier, vegan take on the usual deep-fried, cheese-filled variety, place your leftover risotto in a mixing bowl and add enough nutritional yeast to thicken it up and bind it; I recommend adding a tablespoon at a time. Salt, pepper and dried herbs are also great additions. Blitz some bread into crumbs (stale bread is ideal) and add to the mix. You want it thick enough to form balls when you take a clump. Use your hands to roll the arancini, then lightly fry them or bake them in the oven until they crisp up and brown all over.