Risotto, my latest favorite dish, is simple opulence on a plate. When I dine at an elegant vegan restaurant, my eye always shoots down the menu to see if they serve risotto. When prepared properly, risotto is oh so comforting, hearty, and delicious. For me, it is the creaminess of risotto; I am a lover of anything silky: oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, etc. However, when it came to making the dish myself, I was reluctant because I had seen it prepared incorrectly on almost every cooking show I’ve watched. This made me extremely nervous about attempting to make the dish; however, when I finally took the plunge and tried to make my own risotto, I found that, surprisingly, the recipe is very simple. The main thing is that the preparation takes time and care, but it isn’t difficult at all. In fact, I find that cooking risotto is very therapeutic. Slowly stirring in the broth little by little as the steam warms my face and the aroma travels up into my nostrils. I highly recommend preparing this recipe after a long, difficult workday. When times are tough, it’s nice knowing that you can make a five-star-restaurant-worthy dish with little effort.
The key to the success of this risotto is the addition of cashew cheese at the end of the cooking process. I actually placed my first order at the online marketplace, Good Eggs, recently and discovered the most delicious and satisfying cashew cheese I had ever eaten–Nary Dairy Cashew Cheese. Besides the taste, the cheese contains only simple, pure, and healthy ingredients. I even had the pleasure of meeting the husband and wife behind the Nary Dairy cheese products, and they are so delightful! They make their cheeses by hand over the weekends. No factories; just one lovely couple. After having a bite of the Nary Dairy herbed cheese, I was instantly inspired. I knew that it would be the perfect finishing touch to my risotto. And, sure enough, it elevated the dish to a whole other level. In the past, I had added a pat of vegan butter at the end; however, Nary Dairy cheese makes the dish far more sumptuous. Pure food, pure opulence-purely delicious.
Creamy Mushroom and Leek Risotto
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 leeks-rinsed and sliced, white end only
4 cloves garlic-minced
2 cups cremini mushrooms-sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white vegan wine
4 tablespoons Nary Dairy Herbed Cream Qi'Z Cashew Cheese
1 cup frozen peas-thawed
Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the stock to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Set aside and keep warm over very low heat.
Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. When hot, add the leek, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and lots of freshly cracked pepper. Cook until translucent–about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned–another minute or so. Add the rice and toast, stirring constantly, until it smells nutty-about 2-3 minutes.
Add the wine, stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Add one ladle of the warm stock, and stir the risotto until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Continue the process one ladle at a time until all of the stock has been absorbed, stirring often–a total of about 20 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the Nary Dairy cheese until fully incorporated. Top with peas, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately, adding a squeeze of lemon over each serving to finish the dish.