Friday, December 13, 2013

Vegan Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash & Crispy Kale

Vegan Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash & Crispy Kale

We all love to go out to eat, try new things, even pay a little extra to have a culinary experience from time to time. But you don't have to go out to have that experience. It's very popular to have dinner parties, get togethers,or even couples night. Why not pass up the take-out or the same old, same old dinners. You can go that extra mile to impress without putting in much effort. You will not only save yourself the expense, but also express to your guests how truly important they really are. By going that extra mile you can show that you care, it's a gestu that I grew up with. The way to a persons heart, more than most people is threw their stomachs. This recipe shows you how to take a "fancy" dish like risotto and make it even more scrumptious and easy. The exotic pairing of saffron with the hearty and sweet squash makes for a perfect warming winter dish. The crispy kale rounds out the dish nicely with a crunchy finish. All of it works together to make a whole meal that will please young and old alike. Serve along side a fresh garden salad and it pairs great with a glass of vegan white wine. A perfect recipe to serve on a special occasion or the holidays to impress. But you and I both know that it was easy, the only question is...what's for dessert? Enjoy!

Vegan Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash & Crispy Kale

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
3 Tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
2 ounces vegan bacon, diced (optional)
2 large large shallots or half a medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

Vegan Parmesan cheese, to serve
1-2 cups Crispy Kale, to serve (recipe below)


Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 to 2 teaspoons parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the vegan butter (or oil) and saute the vegan bacon and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned.

Diced  Vegan Bacon (Optional)

Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. 

Add the rice wine vinegar and add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, salt (to taste), and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.

Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and vegan parmesan cheese.

Mix well and serve. Top each bowl with risotto, sprinkle with vegan Parmesan and garnish with a 1-2 Tbsp crispy kale or family style with 1 cup of crispy kale on top for everyone to enjoy. Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat (if any is left) as desired. Pairs great with a glass of vegan white wine and a fresh garden salad. All the benefits of a fancy meal, without a lot of work...but company will never know it. I promise not to say a word! ;)


Crispy Kale

Ingredients1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt.

Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

*I always make extra because the Kale is so great to munch on before even getting it to the table..."appetizer" if you will. Store extra crispy kale in a air right container with 1/4 cup of dry rice. The rice helps keep the kale crisp and from going limp over time. Enjoy again and again!


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