Friday, April 22, 2011

Cannellini Risotto with Peas and Fresh Herbs

I should add a "recession-friendly" category when I tag recipes. There is a common notion that following a vegan lifestyle is more expensive and more work. Ok it's not completely unfounded, but vegan cooking and eating doesn't have to break the bank and doesn't have to take hours and hours. We're all feeling a little thrifty, a little stretched, willing to take more bargains. Fortunately with risotto, you don't have to compromise taste or time to suit your wallet.

After making a couple of big arse payments for various loans in attempt to feel more responsible and less debt ridden, I am definitely looking to cook more budget friendly recipes. And with the madness that has ensued this spring - flying between Minnesota, Houston, Boston, Jersey and back to Phoenix in a matter of 4 weeks - I am also looking to cook easy recipes that don't require much thought. Though risotto requires time at the stove, if you have a companion and a glass or wine (or your companion IS the glass of wine), the time will fly by. In a matter of minutes, your rice will be soaked in flavorful goodness and your freshly snipped herbs put to good use.

I highly recommend using a great hodgepodge of herbs in this recipe. I had lots of parsley, basil and chives, but a sprinkling of mint and thyme went nicely into the mix. You could stir in blanched asparagus or frozen spinach instead of peas if little green orbs aren't your thing. I didn't exactly break this down cost-wise, but I promise this is one of the cheaper, tastier meal you'll enjoy in your own home.

Cannellini Risotto with Peas and Fresh Herbs
Makes: 2-3 servings
Cook time: 30 minutes


3-4 c. vegetable broth, water, or mix

1 T. olive oil
2 T. shallots, chopped
1-2 T. garlic, minced
2 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
3/4 c. white rice, pearled barley or arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. fresh or frozen green peas, thawed if using frozen
1 c. cannellini beans, from canned (rinsed) or cooked from dry
3 T. nutritional yeast
3 T. almond or soy milk
1/3 c. fresh mixed herbs: basil, parsley, chives, thyme, etc.
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the broth/water mix over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. When broth comes to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low. Keep broth on burner while you prepare the risotto.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon peel and rice and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat completely in flavored oil and cook another minute or so. Add the wine and let cook until almost all the moisture has evaporated. Reduce heat to medium low and pour in 3/4 cup of broth. Let rice mixture cook until has absorbed almost all liquid. When the pan starts to dry again, add another 3/4 c of broth. Repeat this 2 or 3 more times until rice is fully cooked.

When rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add peas and beans and cook until peas are just heated through. Stir in nutritional yeast, milk, and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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