A few weeks ago I had an incredible vegan meal at a little spot right around the corner from my old stomping grounds in the West Village. I was equally excited to be dining in the old hood as I was to be sharing a meal with some of my favorite people. The delicious food was a bonus and served as a little inspiration in my own kitchen. My friend had raved about Blossom for some time so I decided it was finally time to see what all of the fuss was about. Among a table of unique cocktails, pizza that you would never know was vegan, and many other knock your socks off dishes, stood my favorite plate of the night – their vegan risotto. A few weeks later, I decided it was time to attempt making the vegan risotto myself.
Without researching any recipes, I thought I would wing it and try making this with some cashew cream – something I had been wanting to experiment with for some time. I googled how to make the cashew cream (simple as pie – blend raw cashews with water) and substituted it in for butter. The risotto came out rich and creamy and didn’t leave me in a food coma, and it was very similar to the risotto I had eaten a few weeks prior at Blossom. I topped my dinner off with some pumpkin from my CSA that I roasted while the risotto was cooking. If you’re craving risotto this winter but don’t want all of the fat involved in the classic meal, I highly recommend giving this a try. Here’s how to make it…
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
5 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dry white wine (I used half white wine, half dry sherry)
2 medium shallots diced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1-2 cups roasted pumpkin – cut into small cubes for roasting
Zest of one lemon
To make the cashew cream, blend raw cashews and water in food processor until smooth. Start with 1/2 a cup of water and add a bit more if too thick.
Place slices of pumpkin in a pan with a little olive oil and roast at 400 degrees while risotto is cooking, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn or crisp (about 15 minutes).
In a pot (I used a Le Creuset), saute shallots in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften and become translucent. Continue to cook over low-medium heat for a few more minutes. Add white wine to the vegetable broth and add 1/2 cup of the liquid to the pot and then add rice – there should be enough liquid to just cover the rice – add more if necessary. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As liquid absorbes continue to add more – about 1/2 a cup at a time. Continue stirring after you add more liquid. After about 15-20 minutes, rice should begin to soften. When rice is fully cooked (give it a taste to see if it is soft), mix in the cashew cream. Add lemon zest and mix. Remove pumpkin from the oven and mix into risotto.