Tuesday, August 11, 2015

brown rice carrot risotto + minty pea pesto

Risotto is one of those meals that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like a comfort food, or a cold weather warm-me-up meal. But not this risotto! It has so many fresh and fantastic flavors that scream "summer!"

I've made brown rice risotto in the traditional stove top "sweat-stir-slave-away" method but it was pretty brutal. I think it took even longer than white aborrio rice takes, which is already too long if you ask me. So, this time I took a massive shortcut and precooked the brown rice in my rice cooker. It turned out fantastic!

The fresh carrot and turmeric in the risotto compliment the minty pea pesto so well. The pesto is packed with fresh herbs, tangy lime juice, and sweet peas. No shortage of flavors in this meal!

I have recently discovered Chef AJ. I have been reading about her diet, recommendations, and her book; Unprocessed. For this reason, I have been playing around with using as little added oil as possible while cooking, and cutting down on my nut and seed consumption. I am realizing that more times than not, added oil isn't even necessary! Feel free to add oil to this recipe if you want to, but I really don't think it's needed in this meal! (To learn more about Chef AJ's story and book try these links.)

Start the brown rice in a small rice cooker or stove top:
  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 4 cups water

While this is cooking, make the pesto:

minty pea pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves 
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional)

Add chopped kale, garlic, salt, and lime juice to a food processor and process until broken down. Add the mint and cilantro and process until finely chopped. The more you process the greens at this stage, the more liquid will be released and the less oil you will need. I used to make pesto with 1/2 cup of olive oil! I thought that lots of oil was the only way to get the consistency that I wanted. But it turns out that blending the herbs with salt and lemon first will help get an ideal pesto consistency without loads of added oil.

Lastly, add the peas and pulse to combine. I like to keep my peas kind of chunky but it is up to you how much you want to blend it.

Transfer pesto into a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Give your food processor a quick rinse because you are going to use it again!

brown rice carrot risotto
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1" piece of turmeric root
  • cooked brown rice (from above)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Roughly chop carrots, onions, and turmeric. Blend in food processor until finely chopped.

Now check on your rice. You don't have to let it cook all the way, just so most of the water is absorbed but it's still kind of wet.

Transfer the carrot/onion/turmeric mixture into a large saucepan over medium heat. This is another time when olive oil is optional, but not necessary.

Cook carrot/onion/turmeric mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine, salt, and pepper and simmer until reduced, another 3-5 minutes

Add all of the brown rice and cook until all liquid is absorbed (if there was any excess). Add the boiling water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each 1/2 cup absorb completely. When all water has cooked down turn  the heat off and add the nutritional yeast. This is the vegan "cheese" part of the dish and what gives it the gooey risotto-like texture.

Serve immediately! Top with a generous portion of minty pea pesto and a glass of white wine and you have yourself a fresh but filling summer meal!

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