Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lemon-Basil Risotto with Tomato Topping

I have a new gadget! Tonight was my first night using a pressure cooker - essentially a big pot with an air-tight lid, these are great gadgets to cut down on the cooking times for dishes such as risottos, cooked beans, and stews. Another benefit is that, since cooking times are shortened, foods retain more of their vitamins and minerals. I went with a slightly pricier version only because I'm a wimp and was afraid of explosions or splattering with a cheaper one, but the cheap ones are supposed to do just as fine a job. Read all safety instructions before you begin, whatever the case.

Onwards to the recipe we go!

First make the topping: in a bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups chopped and seeded tomato (about 2 large - I was 1/4 cup shy, so make sure you buy tomatoes big enough), 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (I used ground red pepper by accident - oops), a dash of raw sugar, a dash of salt, and a dash of black pepper. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Now melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a 6-quart pressure cooker over medium heat. Another note of caution is to make sure your pressure cooker is large enough for any given recipe - you should never fill it more than 2/3 of the way, since things will expand during cooking.

Add 1 cup chopped onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine (I chose an unfiltered chardonnay from Burgundy, but any dry white will do), and cook 1 minute until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in 4 cups vegetable broth, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Give it all a big stir, then firmly attach the lid of the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure over high heat - make sure you've read the manufacturer's instructions, which will tell you the indication that your device has reached high pressure. For mine, a tiny valve on top pops up, to reveal 2 lines of red, which was the sign things were at high pressure. Once there, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking for 6 minutes, maintaining high pressure.

Remove the pot from heat and run cold tap water all around the closed lid. This is the fastest way to remove the pressure, and indeed, the pressure valve fell back down on my apparatus in a matter of moments. Carefully remove the lid - steam will still escape out, and you don't want to burn yourself!

Add 1 cup grated vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil (I confess I was a few tablespoonfuls short on basil, as well).

1 cup of risotto topped with 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture is 370 calories. Congratulations on success with your new kitchen toy!

tomato $2.06
onion $0.37
Arborio rice $3.43
dry white wine $15.99
vegetable broth $3.49
lemon $0.50

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance