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Emergency Risotto (Vegan, Whole Food)

Tonight I made a wonderful discovery - there are episodes of the Barefoot Contessa for free on Hulu!  I couldn't be happier.  I dove into the first episode, "Cooking with Wine," and developed an uncontrollable craving for the mushroom risotto she was making.

Of course it's the middle of term paper season so I have nothing respectable in my kitchen, so I had to do some improvising.  I also didn't have 45 minutes to add homemade chicken broth to arborio rice on ladlefull at a time.  I found all of these things in my kitchen, and the result was actually delicious.

Normal recipes call for arborio rice, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream, and garlic.  I only had garlic.  These are my improvisations:

1 bag of precooked brown rice (from Trader Joe's)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
any quantity of frozen asparagus
1 vegan "chicken" bouillon cube
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (I am sure cornstarch would work just as well)
1 cup frozen corn
olive oil
black pepper
a pinch of thyme

I sauteed the onion with the garlic, olice oil, thyme, salt and pepper, then broke the frozen asparagus spears into thirds and added them to the onions, along with the frozen corn.  After about 5 minutes on medium heat, I added the cup of water and the vegan bouillon cube, mixed it all together, then added the bag of precooked brown rice.  After bringing this all to a boil, I reduced to a simmer and added the tapioca flour, and stirred until the moisture was all absorbed and I had something resembling the consistency of risotto.

At this point my expectations were quite low (I did just substitute heavy cream and cheese for water), but the result was delicious!  The tapioca flour binds it all together with a rich and thick texture and makes a glossy "sauce" that is a lot like the real thing. The flavors from the asparagus, corn, and garlic all worked well (the vegetables were roasted before they were frozen, and I think that added some great flavor).

I paired this with a tiny glass of cream sherry, my go-to when I don't want to open a bottle of wine just for myself.  Mmm.

Some canned or frozen peas would have been great in this, as well as carrots, potatoes, beets - really anything you happen to have on hand.  Next time perhaps I'll add the can of chick peas that has been in my pantry since September.

While I'd choose the heavy cream and cheese version any day, this was probably the most pleasantly surprising pantry-scavenging dinner I've had yet.  And it actually ended up being an extremely healthy whole food vegan dinner - win-win!


  1. This sounds so good. I run out of ideas quickly in vegan cooking. You seem to have endless, creative possibilities. Can't wait to try this.


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