February 1, 2018 was our 2 year Veganniversary. We can’t believe how the time has flown but also how it feels like we’ve been living this lifestyle for so much longer than two years! We’ve made a small tradition of celebrating this occasion with a special meal that feels fancy but is delicious and easy to make. For us, a go to that checks all these boxes is risotto. When we first transitioned to a plant-based/vegan lifestyle this Mushroom and Zucchini Risotto was one of the first things that I began working on to make without dairy as Risotto is a date night favorite of ours. It is creamy yet not heavy, satiating but not bloating, and did I mention just downright tasty?
One of the great things about risotto is that is super easy to veganize, as all the creamy texture comes from the method of cooking and the type of rice you use, not actually from dairy. Even if you left the vegan butter and parmesan out of this recipe you’d still achieve this texture due to the really quick stirring you do at the end to incorporate the other finishing ingredients.
Another reason risotto is a key meal to have in your cooking arsenal is that it is incredibly adaptable to whatever you have in your fridge. Don’t have mushrooms or zucchini? Use all mushrooms or all zucchini. Or, what about roasted peppers and roast garlic, pumpkin puree and sage or tomatoes and basil? Even carrots or beets work well in risotto if you account for the extra cooking time these harder vegetables require to cook down. The options really are endless. Though, I really recommend you give this combo a try because its freaking awesome. Its possible I’m a bit biased on this one ;).
Now lets talk about the actual cooking of risotto, which many people consider to be really difficult and not worth cooking at home. Though I’ve rated this recipe as medium difficulty, that’s truly only because it involves some extra prep steps to make the risotto making process seamless and relaxing. Read: not scrambling to uncork the wine at the last minute and cut yourself chopping the mushrooms frantically (I’ve done this — take my advice and prep your veg!). This mushroom and zucchini risotto itself is simple to make yet feels upscale and like we’re in a swanky restaurant. Paired with a glass of wine, that’s my kind of dinner! Read the method in advance so you know what to do, and I promise it really not as hard as you thought!
So, lets make Risotto!
Mushroom and Zucchini Risotto
- 4 cups vegetable or mushroom stock
- 1 leek, sliced thin (appx 1 3/4 cups)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 oz mushrooms, diced (appx 6-8 mushrooms)
- 1 small zucchini, diced (appx 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 cup arborio or other short grain white rice
- 2 tbsp vegan parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vegan butter (optional, but recommended)
- salt to taste
- Prep your leeks by slicing them and adding to a bowl of cool water for a few minutes. This is to clean the grit from the leeks, the dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks will float at the top.
- Meanwhile add the stock to a medium sized pot, cover and turn on low to warm the stock.
- While the leeks are soaking and stock is warming, prep the rest of your vegetables by mincing the garlic and dicing the mushrooms and zucchini.
- Scoop the leeks from the bowl with your hand or a slotted spoon and transfer to a new clean bowl or plate. Discard the dirty water.
- Pre-heat a medium to large pot over medium heat.
- Add the olive oil and leeks. Sautee for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add garlic and mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sautee 10 minutes until mushrooms release their liquids.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for another minute to cook off the alcohol.
- Add the zucchini to the pot and sautee another 2-3 minutes. Adding them before this step results in mushy zucchini, so I like adding them after the wine.
- Add the cup of arborio rice & stir to coat and slightly toast for 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-high (not high or the rice will stick!) and add 2-3 ladles of the warm stock. Stir every minute or two until the rice absorbs most of the stock.
- Add another 1-2 ladles of stock and continue stirring every minute or two adding more stock as the rice absorbs it. Continue until the rice is just cooked, about 17-20 minutes depending.
- Finish your risotto by adding the vegan parmesan cheese, lemon juice and the vegan butter. Stir vigorously to combine and create a creamier texture for about 30 seconds.
- Serve immediately topped with more vegan parmesan.