Tag Archive for risotto

Risotto Milanese {Vegan option}

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. Risotto Milanese Vegan

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. Saffron

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! Risotto Milanese

Risotto Milanese 

  • 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


  1. In a saucepan, heat the vegetable stock to boiling. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

It’s Easter weekend, and while that immediately brings to mind thoughts of chocolate, it also, to me, symbolizes everything green. My chives are starting to poke up, and here in Vancouver, we have crocuses, daffodils, and even cherry blossoms. Spring is here. We made it through another long, dark, rainy winter, and that’s cause for celebration.

This risotto is packed with everything green and fresh and seasonal: asparagus, peas, leeks and parsley. It’s light and yummy.

Spring risotto with asparagus and peas

Many people are afraid of risotto because it’s a lot of work. It’s not really that bad. I’m not a pro, and my version would probably get me eliminated off of Top Chef (then again, that’s par for the course), but I’ve been doing it long enough that I have my own method that works really well for me.

Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas


  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I make my own, but I keep bouillon around in case I run out)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut on the diagonal in 1-2″ pieces
  • a handful of sugar snap peas, also cut on the diagonal (or substitute frozen shelled peas if you have them)
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsps–1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbsps parsley or other green herb like basil or Italian parsley
  • cooked shrimp for garnish (leave off if you want it vegetarian)


  • In a small saucepan on the back of the stove, heat the stock to boiling, and then turn it down to a simmer. It’s important not to add cold stock to the risotto once it starts cooking.
  • Prepare the leek by topping and tailing it, and removing a couple of the outer leaves. Cut the leek length-wise down the centre, and wash between all the layers to get any dirt out. Then lay the leek, cut-side down on your cutting board, and cut it up.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and butter to a low-to-medium heat, and allow the butter to melt. Add the leek, season, and stir for about five minutes, until it begins to soften.
  • Next, add the rice, stir, and allow the rice to all become coated with oil. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, then add the wine.
  • Using a soup ladle, pour a couple of ladle fulls of hot stock over your risotto. It should cover the rice. Stir well. You don’t have to constantly stir during this process, but do watch it carefully so that it doesn’t dry out. Whenever the stock boils down, add another ladle or two from your hot stock.
  • While your risotto is doing its thing, heat a small frying  pan on high heat and add some olive oil. Quickly stir-fry the vegetables for a few minutes. You want them to be lightly caramelized, but not fully cooked. Err on the side of underdone, as they will get cooked a little more inside the risotto.
  • When all the stock is added, let it cook down again until it is a loose mixture. You want it to still be a little saucy, you don’t want it to be a porridge consistency. At this point, taste for seasoning and and adjust. Also, make sure that your rice cooked. Some people like theirs al dente, but I like mine cooked all the way through. If your rice is still a bit raw, you’ll need to add more stock.
  • Add in the vegetables, half of the cheese, and 1 tbsp of butter. Stir well, remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit on off of the heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir.
  • Spoon into dishes, garnish with shrimp (if desired) and a snow of freshly-grated Parmesan.