If you've never had risotto before, you are in for a treat. If you have - you know what I'm talking about. Somehow (magic?!) some rice, broth, alcohol and vegetables transform into a super creamy, silky, and dare I say sexy meal that is both comforting and luxurious.
This combination tastes so damn good I just can't think of much more to say about it. I loved it and I groaned with pleasure at the table while eating it. It's just one of those things for me. Toasted hazelnuts have so much incredible flavor that they really pull of this together with a crunchy texture to add as well.
Oh and I strayed a little bit away from the traditional here and used beer instead of wine. I've used wine a million times but adding beer was the best decision I could have made. It adds this... well.. little somethin'-somethin' to the dish that really played well with the herbs, squash and nuts. If you can't find a good beer for this dish please feel free to use a dry white wine instead. I know not everyone gets to live in the Pacific Northwest like me (where we have access to tons of awesome local microbrews!) but I'm pretty dang sure you can find good quality beer anywhere if you look hard enough.
This may be one of those dishes you want to make on a weekend. Especially if you can serve them up to someone special. Date night? Got it! Family rocked it this week? Yeah let's have fancy dinner tonight! Dinner with a sappy movie in your PJs? Heck yeah risotto does that too!
Vegan Butternut, Leek and Toasted Hazelnut Risotto
- 2 cups arborio rice (a high starch short grain rice used for making risotto. A must have!)
- 2 cups sliced leeks (1 large leek)
- 4 cups finely diced peeled butternut squash
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 & 1/2 cups beer - preferably a hefeweizen or other low bitter beer like some red ales or something similar. (Think Fat Tire ale. Nothing that comes in a can.)
- 2 Tablespoons miso
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is preferred)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (I used 1 Tablepoon thyme and 1 Tablespoon rosemary. Parsley or sage would be nice as well.)
- 1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy-bottom sauce pan sauté the leeks and squash in a couple of tablespoons of water over medium-high until the leeks have softened. Stir in the rice.
Now add in 1 cup of the beer and cook until it is fully absorbed.
Now stir in 1 cup of the broth and lower the heat to medium. You will want to stir the pot most of the time from here until the end so don't go away yet. Cook until the 1 cup of broth is absorbed by the rice and then add in another cup.
Continue adding broth and cooking until it is absorbed. After your last cup is fully absorbed add in the remaining 1/2 cup of beer. The rice should be creamy but still thick - not at all like soup but more like thick porridge.
Now turn the heat to low and stir in the miso, nutmeg, chopped herbs and add salt/black pepper to taste. Fresh ground pepper in this is divine, by the way.
Top each serving with a portion of chopped toasted hazelnuts or stir them all into the main dish if you desire.
Serve with a nice glass of wine and a salad. Enjoy!