Luxuriously creamy, traditional risotto requires close attention during the cooking process. Liquid is folded into the rice gradually, so you need to stir the pot continuously to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. Traditional risotto is also quite rich, involving generous amounts of both butter and cheese.
Here, we’ve created an easier and lighter version. Cooking the rice on its own and making a separate vegan butternut squash cream sauce takes the sweat out of the process. The result is every bit as creamy with very little fat.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
For the risotto:
1 cup brown rice (See Recipe Notes)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
1 medium onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
For the cream sauce:
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and coarsely chopped (See Recipe Notes)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Zest of one lemon, grated
Fresh sage, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Combine the rice and vegetable broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
- In the meantime, steam the butternut squash until tender in a medium pot.
- In a separate pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, mushrooms, onions, and salt and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Then add the wine and cook until it is boiled off, about 3 minutes. Set the mushroom mixture aside.
- Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, peel it and cut it into chunks to yield 2 cups.
- In a food processor or heavy-duty blender, blend the cooked squash, almond milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper until it forms a thick, smooth “cream” sauce.
- Pour the rice, mushroom mixture, cream sauce, dried sage, and lemon zest in a large bowl and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh sage, if using.
- If you’re using leftover rice, you can revive it by adding 3 cups of the cooked rice and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to a pot and cooking on medium heat, covered. Stir intermittently until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is hot and fluffy.
- For a more Alfredo-like sauce, substitute cauliflower for the butternut squash, nix the dried sage, and mix in 1 cup of chopped fresh parsley at the end. Red bell peppers and peas are a nice alternative to mushrooms in this version if you prefer them. Sauté the red bell pepper as indicated above but toss in the peas at the very end.