23.10.2017
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23.06.2017

1 ratings, avg : 5.00
3-4

A vegan risotto that just screams “healthy”. Aromatic herbs such as parsley, dill and celery, partner up with flavourful amaranth greens (aka vlita) and create this deliciously fresh-tasting dish. Sprinkle with homemade vegan “parmesan” and you won’t be needing anything else.

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A close view of a white plate with a crinkly edge, containing risotto and a sprinkling of vegan cheese, in the bottom right corner of the photo. In the top left is a bunch of amaranth greens. All on a dark surface.

I am not vegan, as you already know if you read this blog. I am not even vegetarian. I do however try to limit my meat consumption, and I really love experimenting with veggie and vegan dishes. So many of them sound amazingly delicious. I’ve been wanting to try a vegan risotto for ages, as well as vegan “parmesan”. The opportunity arose a short while ago, so I chose to try a green version, with lots of fresh herbs.

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: An ingredient shot, with various greens spread around the edges of the photo. To the top is a small bowl of rice and a lemon, to their right some spring onions. To the bottom right is some dill weed and some Greek celery. In the top left corner are some amaranth leaves and some parsley. All on a rough surfaced black background.

The combination of celery, parsley and dill is quite popular in Greece, and these herbs appear in many different dishes, so the fragrance of this risotto feels very familiar. It is however a little more refined, and the texture of the rice is lovely since I’ve used the proper risotto method. Well, nearly. I didn’t worry about keeping the stock warm. It didn’t seem to be a problem. Maybe it would have been ready a little quicker if I had. Or maybe there are other scientific explanations on why I should have had the stock simmering in a pan; if there are I don’t know them. And since the dish came together beautifully I’ll leave things alone.

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: The plate of risotto without the vegan cheese on top. In the top right corner is the small bowl of «cheese» and a wooden lemon juicer sitting proped against half a squeezed lemon.

Usually green risottos have spinach in them. Which makes sense. But here in Greece we have a dish called spanakorizo (sound anything like spanakopita? That’s because “spanaki” is the word for spinach). Spanakorizo is spinach rice, a sooort of risotto, but bulkier and stodgier. I wanted to steer away from that so I chose a very popular summery green, amaranth. Amaranth is called vlita here (pronounced vleetah) and is eaten often during the summer months, mostly boiled and served with olive oil, lemon and bread. As it turns out, it works in risotto too!

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A top view of a white colander filled with freshly washed greens, herbs and spring onions.

The vegan parmesan is something I could just sit and eat with a spoon. It’s made with cashews and nutritional yeast, which is amazingly cheesy for something that doesn’t have cheese in it. It’s super simple and you can play around with it to suit your tastebuds. I chose to add some salt and a touch of garlic powder. It’s not garlicky, but again, feel free to go for a stronger version if you want. The only issue for me was that in this case, when eaten with the risotto, the taste was overtaken by the strong flavour of the greens and herbs. I remedied that by just adding more and more “parmesan”. Problem solved. It’s healthy so why not?!

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Two plates of risotto on a dark surface, in the bottom right and top left corners of the photo. Both have forks in them, and some of the risotto is missing. To the top right is a small bowl of vegan cheese with a spoon in it. To the bottom left a bunched up gray linen napkin.

A couple of notes about the recipe. First of all, you can change the herbs and greens if you want. Just stick to the quantities mentioned. This is the perfect recipe for using up those half bunches of whatever lurking in the back of the fridge. If you aren’t vegan or lactose intolerant, you can try it with real parmesan or crumbled feta. Try the feta. I think the feta would be best. Go for the feta.

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A small bowl of vegan cheese. The «cheese» resembles fine breadcrumbs or sawdust! To its right some cashews lying on the dark surface.

The cooking time and the quantity of stock you need will depend on the rice. If you can’t find “Carolina” rice (it’s the name of the Greek variety, not the US brand Carolina!) use Arborio which is for risotto. Keep in mind you might not need all the liquid, or that you might need to add a little water at the end. If you want to buy Carolina rice, you can find it on the internet (search “Greek carolina rice”).

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A closer view of the plate of risotto, sitting on a bunched up gray linen napkin. The plate is in the centre of the photo.

As regards seasoning, keep in mind that some store-bought brands of vegetable stock are quite salty. Mine is also a little spicy. So adjust your salt and pepper accordingly.

Vegan Risotto with Amaranth and Herbs www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A closer view of the plate of risotto, with a fork in it and some of the food missing. The juicy texture of the rice is more prominent in the shot.

Here goes!

Ingredients

For the vegan “parmesan”

1 cup cashews, raw and unsalted

1/4 cup (4 Tbs) nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

For the risotto

50gr celery (I used the thin type that looks like large parsley)

40gr amaranth, leaves only

20gr parsley, leaves and thin stalks only

20gr dill, leaves and think stalks only

1 litre vegetable stock, hot

40gr + 30gr vegan margarine

90gr (4) spring onions, finely chopped (use as much of the dark green part as you have white and light green)

30gr (3) thick amaranth stalks, finely chopped

250gr Greek carolina rice (or other risotto variety)

75ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked

Show me more ideas and suggestions

Greek celery looks like large parsley. If you can’t find this sort, use the thinner stalks from the top of a head of celery with the leaves.

Step 1

To make the vegan “parmesan” combine the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder in a food processor, and process until it looks like fine breadcrumbs or sawdust! (it doesn't taste like sawdust, I promise!) Refrigerate in an airtight container and use as desired.

Step 2

For the risotto, combine the celery, amaranth leaves, parsley and dill in a food processor with a large bowl. Add 250ml (about one cup) of the stock and process until smooth. Be careful as the hot liquid will create steam and things might get messy with escaped liquid. Open the top frequently and pulse for very short periods. After it’s smooth, add 500ml stock, stir and set aside.

Step 3

Heat the 40gr of vegan marge in a large, deep frying pan (that will later fit all the risotto) over medium heat. Add the spring onions and amaranth stalks, stir well to coat and cook gently till softened, about 5 minutes.

Step 4

Add the rice to the pan and cook for two minutes stirring continuously. Don’t let it stick.

Step 5

Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Let the rice absorb the juice, about half to one minute.

Step 6

Add 125ml of the remaining plain stock (not the green one). Stir until absorbed and add the rest. Stir till absorbed and add 125ml of the green stock. Continue in the same way with 125ml (about half a cup) each time. Wait for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. It should take about 25 minutes to finish the stock.

Step 7

At the end, you want the risotto to be quite runny, not thick, as it will continue to thicken after it’s removed from the stove. So check that the rice is done (al dente, not mushy), turn off the heat, add the rest of the margarine and, if necessary, add 125ml water. Set aside for 5 minutes but again don’t let it get stodgy.

Step 8

Serve with lots of vegan “parmesan”!

Note: The Greek side of this blog post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.

1 ratings, avg : 5.00

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