There are many ways to achieve a creamy texture in main dishes without using melted cheese or dairy. One way is to choose starchy foods like risotto, which, when combined with broth as it cooks, acts as its own thickening agent. The result is saucy and satisfying.
Risotto (made with arborio rice) requires a little babysitting, but it’s a one-dish meal worth the effort. Here’s how to do it.
You may use any boxed vegetable broth for this recipe, but I prefer to make my own stock if I have time. I recently read an article by Mark Bittman in the New York Times Magazine (Simple Stocks for Soup on the Fly) about different quick broths. I used the tempeh broth he suggested in the article as the base for this recipe. Check out his different ideas. I’m keeping them handy for the future!
Risotto Meets Sesame
One red pepper, washed and sliced into strips
Four carrots, peeled and julienned
Six cups vegetable stock of your choice (I used tempeh stock)
One-half cup mirin or any white wine
One to two tablespoons sesame oil
Three garlic cloves, minced
Two bunches scallions, white parts chopped
Two cups arborio rice
One cup frozen baby green peas, partially thawed
One-half cup canned bean sprouts (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Three tablespoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Soy sauce to taste
1. Steam red pepper and carrots until tender, but still crisp, about ten minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add stock and wine to a saucepan. Heat until just simmering.
3. In a large saucepan, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add garlic and scallions, cooking until softened, about three minutes. Add raw rice and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes.
4. To the rice, garlic and scallions, add one cup simmering stock. Stir until stock is absorbed. (I use a soup ladle to transfer the stock to the rice as it cooks, estimating amounts as I go. There is no need to be precise.) Continue to add stock, one ladleful at a time, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice begins to soften, about 20 minutes.
5. Stir in peas and another cup of stock. Continue stirring constantly until the liquid has almost been absorbed and the rice begins to thicken. Stir in the steamed vegetables, bean sprouts and salt and pepper, adding more of the stock as needed, until the mixture is creamy, not runny, the rice is tender yet firm to the bite, and the vegetables are heated through, about five minutes.
6. Remove from heat and top with sesame seeds. Serve alongside soy sauce.
This recipe would be great with peanuts too. Substitute sesame oil for peanut oil, and top with toasted, chopped peanuts.