Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Risotto alla Milanese with Peas

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I think we all get a little rose-colored glassy around this time of year. We tend to recall our favorite childhood memories of early Christmas morning surprises or piles of colorful cookies with a warm heart and hopes that this year will be just as memorable. For me this dish really took me back.

Back in the day when I was a little eater (so small I needed to be carried), my family used to go to out to an Italian restaurant that I can't recall the name of but can picture in my head perfectly... I think about that place a lot this time of year and about when Little Italy was actually full of Italians. I can remember my dad carrying me over snow drifts, I can remember white table cloths and wooden chairs hanging on the brick walls to be pulled down to turn a 4 top into a 5. I can recall drawing pictures on the small paned drafty - frosty windows as we waited to eat. I remember the inside being decorated with tacky red, orange and green Christmas lights, paper Santa decorations and tables packed in so tight that you couldn't put your coat on the back of your chair. You had to give it to the hostess. Sounds fancy but really it was just small but authentic. My parents always ordered me a bowl of Risotto alla Milanese and a ginger ale. I was pretty much the happiest kid ever.

Now the real Risotto alla Milanese has saffron, Parmesan cheese and veal marrow ( I know - so pointless and cruel) in it and if you ever watched Top Chef or any other cooking show - you know this dish is a basic dish that they are always saying every chef should know how to make. They are constantly calling folks out for making their Risotto wrong and I've seen many a talented chef hang their head in shame when called out for crunchy Risotto. We're hoping that this dish will provide you with easy to follow instructions on how to make Risotto correctly but also show that you can make a really great tasting compassionate replica of this classic Italian dish - that is so easy you can whip up a batch on a snowy afternoon or to serve as a side for a Holiday dinner with some thing like our Vegan Venison or the Citrus & Garlic Basted Holiday Roast.

Whatever your plans - I hope this dish is as memorable for you as it is too me! Buon Natale!

Risotto alla Milanese (I have to warn you this only makes 4 normal sized servings - but if you are like us and really love your rice and pasta - you'll want to double this recipe)
    • 1 Tablespoon Margarine
    • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • 1/2 Red Onion (finely diced)
    • 1 Tablespoon & 1 Teaspoon Fresh Parsley (finely diced)
    • 1 Cup Arborio Rice (some packages say Risotto on them - some don't but if you can't find Arborio look for Risotto)
    • 1/2 Cup White Wine
    • 3 Cups Better Than Bouillon Vegan Chicken Broth (made per directions on the package - if you can't find this - you can always use your favorite Vegan Broth)
    • 1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast or Vegan Parmesan Cheese
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Basil
    • Dash of Nutmeg (optional - it can make it taste a bit more cheesy in a kinda rustic-earthy way)
    • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
    • Salt & Pepper to Taste

    In your neglected non-stick skillet, heat Margarine and Olive Oil over a medium heat until Margarine is melted. Cook Red Onion and Parsely in the warm Olive Oil for about 5 minutes - stirring constantly until Red Onion is tender.

    Stir in Rice. You're going to want to stir the Rice constantly while it cooks. Once the tips of the Rice are translucent - stir in the White Wine. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes. You are waiting for the White Wine to be absorbed by the Rice. Once it is - reduce heat to around a simmer.

    Stir in 1 Cup of the Better Than Bouillon. Cook uncovered for around 5 minutres while you stir constantly and making sure your Rice doesn't stick to the sides. Once the Bouillon has been absorbed by the Rice, pour in another cup of Faux Chicken Bouillon. Stir the Rice constantly and when the second cup of Bouillon has been completely absorbed add your final cup of Fake Chicken Bouillon. Continue to stir the Rice and scrap the sides of your skillet to make sure the Rice isn't sticking anywhere. Each cup will take a little longer to absorb. The second cup took around 6 minutes to absorb the 3rd cup for me took a little over 8. Remove your skillet from the heat once your final cup of Bouillon has been absorbed. Make sure your Rice is tender and the mixture is smooth and creamy. If your Rice still looks a little soupy it's not ready.

    Stir in Nutritional Yeast, Black Pepper, Basil, Nutmeg and Frozen Peas. At this point - check for flavor and add a few dashes of Salt or Pepper per your own taste.


  1. Where is your saffron? lol. Add some garlic, too, because you can never go wrong with garlic.

    This brings memories to me because I spent 4 and 1/2 months in Milan studying abroad, and some distant relatives live in Italy. A roommate and I perfected this dish. Delish!

  2. I made this dish tonight and it was fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Chopped asparagus is the perfect substitute if you intensely dislike frozen peas like I do. :-)