Serves 4. VG, GF. (DF & V Optional)
Here's another throwback to my Italian heritage. Don’t Italians just have the best food? Of course we do!
I like to take these traditional foods and go one step better to wholefood them up. I call it ‘Doing Italian Better.’
This is a basic recipe for one of my family’s all time favourites – tomato risotto.
In my wholefood (and vegan) version, I use brown rice and nutritional yeast; although if you’re not vegan, go ahead and use parmesan cheese.
Nutritional yeast adds a cheesey flavour without any dairy. It also adds plant based whole protein, a good dose of B vitamins, including B12 and important minerals like zinc, magnesium and selenium.
If dairy is your friend, parmesan cheese is one of the best types to eat. Good quality parmesan is very low in lactose (some are lactose free) making it easy on most stomachs. It’s very high in calcium and other minerals too. The combination of minerals is more important for your bones than calcium by itself.
So you choose - vegan or non vegan!
Of course, the cooking method is slightly different to the traditional slow absorption style of cooking risotto.
To be honest – I reckon it takes the pressure off and makes it easier too! Here’s how to make it:
WHAT YOU NEED:
1.5 cups medium grain organic brown rice
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 small brown onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tin BPA free organic diced tomatoes
½ cup water with 1tsp rock salt, dissolved (or equivalent organic vegetable stock)
4 TBS nutritional yeast (or 4 TBSP fresh ground parmesan cheese)
Optional: 1 cup frozen peas, fresh or frozen beans
WHAT TO DO:
STEP 1: Wash the brown rice thoroughly to remove any chemical residues. Cook the rice on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, according to pack instructions. The ratio for brown rice is normally 2 parts water to 1 part rice. For this recipe, that’s 1.5 cups rice +3 cups water. Once cooked, set aside (you can make the rice in advance or just make and keep warm until ready to use).
Once the rice is cooked, making your wholefood risotto is quick and easy...
Have the onion, garlic, salted water (or stock) and vegetables washed, chopped, minced etc., ready to use. In the risotto pictured I added spinach, as I happened to have loads in my garden. Adding vegetables is totally optional.
Add the olive oil to a large flat based pan, followed by the onion and garlic. Saute these until the onion is clear.
Add the diced tomatoes and salted water/stock. Cook on high, stirring for a minute or so. Reduce heat and simmer for another few mins, to let the tomato thicken and liquid start to reduce. 3-4 mins is enough. If using vegetables, add them during this step.
Now add the precooked rice and stir through until the tomato and rice are completely combined. The mix should be thick and moist, with no obvious liquid remaining.
Finally, add the nutritional yeast and stir through. If you’re using dairy, add your parmesan cheese here instead!
The result is a deliciously quick, rich and tasty risotto - vegan or not!
Italian is always so good, and when it’s a wholefood version, it’s even better.
Hope you enjoy this wholefood spin on the traditional Italian risotto. It’s always a winner in our house!