Risotto is an ideal dish for vegans. The starchy short grain arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice it's made with naturally creates its own creamy sauce, and as many vegans can tell you, creaminess is one of the textures you miss most when you make the switch (even if it's just for the occasional meal).
Normally I'll finish my risotto off-heat with a bit of whipped cream to lighten it up and add some extra creaminess to the sauce. But trying to develop good vegan version had me experimenting with alternative liquids. What I discovered was that cooked vegetable purees are even better for loosening your risotto than whipped cream. Not only do they add sauciness to the dish, but they pack it with flavor as well.
One of my favorites? A bright green risotto finished with a puree of spinach and herbs. To get them to maintain their ultra-bright color, I blanch them in vegetable stock and shock them in ice water before pureeing them. This deactivates enzymes that hasten the oxidation reactions that can turn chopped greens brown.
Doesn't bright green risotto just look awesome?
As for the risotto itself, I use the Almost No-Stir Risotto method I developed a while back, though I don't bother toasting the rice quite as deeply as normal (the green puree adds plenty of flavor).
You can top the risotto with whatever you wish, but I like using mushrooms sauteed until deeply browned. A splash of lemon juice and soy sauce brighten their flavor.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.