Since moving from Montreal I seem to have fallen out of the habit of risotto-making. It probably stems from the lack of available delicious wine in Ontario and the fact that the liquor authorities here rarely believe I’m of age (or that my Manitoba and Quebec ID cards are real). When cooking with wine, as we learned from our Bourguignon post, it’s not important that you pick the fanciest or most expensive bottle, but rather that you pick something that you truly like. I used a French Malbec because – although I do not drink alcohol because even one sip of it makes me feel terrible – I do like to develop recipes using it! I also definitely appreciate the fine art of liquor making and I’ve always loved that particular grape.
Our resident sommolier says of the Malbec grape: “Malbec is a red varietal. A traditional Bordeaux varietal, it offers intense flavours, high acidity, and robust tannins. These elements can not only withstand the shock of heat (Malbec is by no means a delicate grape) but acidity and tannins are the perfect pair to enhance other aromas. Malbec is a solid and versatile varietal that is almost always priced fairly. If choosing a wine is scary, Malbec is a solid choice.”
Risotto might also seem intimidating, but it’s really a very simple process. You just need to be on board with having all your ingredients prepared before starting to cook and ready to stand still at the stove for a bit (or maybe you can enlist a helper to do the ever-important stirring). This risotto is so savoury, so satisfying and so creamy, you’ll never know I was just trying to use up the leftover wine I’ve had in my fridge since last week. Use fresh wine, if you so desire. We’ll be coming back to this one recipe over and over again here, that’s for sure. It’s also a little romantic, which is something I find to be severely lacking in vegan cuisine, so hooray for red wine risotto. I topped it with roasted beet, which was a real jeweled-toned slice of heaven.
Red Wine Risotto
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fennel heart, diced (optional)
6 small button mushrooms, chopped fine
Pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup dried porcini mushroom pieces, soaked in hot water and drained
1 cup arborio rice, or other appropriate short grain rice
Pinch of dried rosemary
Pinch of fennel seeds (optional)
2/3 cup red wine
4 cups vegetable stock, warmed to a simmer (You may not need it all)
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated over a microplane
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine
Roasted red beet slices (recipe below)
Heat the stock in a small pot, until it comes to a simmer. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel (if using) and mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sautee for a several minutes, reducing the heat as necessary so as not to brown the vegetables. When the onions are translucent, add in the herbs and rice and stir so all the rice gets coated in oil. Add the wine all at once and start stirring with your favourite wooden spoon. Make sure to make large, sweeping stirring motions, so that most of the rice moves with a single movement. The liquid in your risotto should be gently bubbling at all times. If it ever bubbles hard, or stops bubbling, adjust the temperature to get it back there. Once all the wine has been absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock and stir until absorbed. Add one ladle full of stock at a time (that’s about a 1/4 cup), stirring constantly until an al dente rice is achieved. This will take between twenty and thirty minutes, total. Near the end, grate the clove of garlic into the risotto. Once you hit an al dente texture, turn off the heat and add the nutritional yeast and margarine and stir to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes and then serve immediately.
1 medium red beet, sliced in half
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Foil, for baking
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place beet on a sheet of foil, drizzle with oil and salt and pepper. Wrap tightly. Roast for about 30 minutes. Remove beet from foil and rinse in cool water to remove peel. Cut off the stem and slice thinly. Serve with risotto.