Winter has landed in Vancouver. As I type this, snowflakes are falling outside my window, and the city has come to a standstill. It’s a snow day in Vancouver, the schools are all closed (including BCIT), and many businesses will not bother to open today.
I’m grateful I stocked up on soup and snacks and veg yesterday before all this madness happened, as I will not be going anywhere today on my very bald tires.
I will be snuggling in bed with the cat and thinking warm thoughts and drinking lots of tea.
With this cold snap, I’m craving simple comfort foods…Cacio e Pepe, a super simple pasta dish made with simply pepper and cheese, for example, I can’t seem to get enough of.
And risotto in a warm, sunny colour. I make risotto a lot, it’s filling and comforting, and is a basic pantry staple, as there’s never a time when I don’t have arborio, stock, wine, onions, garlic and cheese.
The twist on this particular risotto is that it’s made with saffron. I went through a bit of a Persian cooking obsession last year when I discovered Bottom of the Pot. Saffron is a staple of Persian cooking, but you may not know it’s also one of the most expensive spices in the world.
You see, each thread of saffron is the pistil of a crocus, and needs to be harvested carefully by hand. A lot of work goes into making saffron, so its end cost is pricey. Thankfully, I live in a town with a big Persian and middle-eastern population, so finding it at a reasonable price is pretty easy to do.
I thought I’d make something with my saffron supply, and decided risotto milanese was the way to go. It’s a simple twist on risotto that produces a beautiful, warm, yellow-coloured dish that will warm you up from the inside.
I topped mine with some mushrooms I fried up in olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Yay dinner!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 3/4 cup aborio rice
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 4-6 cups vegetable stock
- a large pinch of saffron threads
- freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional, or vegan parm)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a saucepan, heat the vegetable stock to boiling. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, stir to coat in the oil, and allow to cook until translucent. You may want to reduce the heat a little if you see the edges of the onions picking up some caramelization. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add the rice and stir everything together until the rice is coated in the oil and onions and garlic. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add in the pinch of saffron.
- Add a ladle or two of stock to the pan, and allow it to come to a boil. Stir the risotto fairly continuously, adding another ladle of stock as needed. Continue doing this until the rice is cooked and the risotto looks saucy. You’ll need to keep tasting it to check for the doneness of the rice.
- Add the final pat of vegan butter, and the cheese if you’re using it, stir well, and remove from the heat. Test for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Place a lid on and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.