National Celiac Awareness Month, Day 18: Vegan, Gluten-Free Risotto with Summer Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Basil

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We thought we’d bring a touch of elegance to National Celiac Awareness Day with this lovely risotto dish, adapted from one of our favorite cookbooks, Fields of Greens. This recipe combines some of the best fresh summer produce, such as green beans, tomatoes and delicious basil. We are topping off this recipe with a dash of saffron to bring an extraordinary flavor and color to the risotto.

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Risotto is a rice dish that is largely found in Italian cooking, it is cooked in broth and typically has a lot of dairy ingredients. For this recipe we have omitted the cheese and used butter-alternative in place of the butter. Trust us, this does not compromise the taste of the dish, which still contains savory  garlic, onions and aromatic dry sherry.

Vegan, Gluten Free Risottto with Summer Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Basil

Yield: Serves four to six

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  • 7 cups of your favorite vegetable stock
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 pound green beans, stem end removed, cut into 2-inch lengths on a diagonal or left whole if small
  • 2 ounces yellow wax beans, cut into 2-inch lengths on a diagonal or left whole if small
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite butter alternative
  • 1/2 medium-size yellow onion, diced
  • Pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A generous pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry*
  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Pour the stock in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and reduce it to approximately 6 cups. Keep the stock warm over very low heat.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drop the green beans into the boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes, until tender. Scoop them from the water with a strainer or slotted soon and rinse under cold water. Drain and set aside. Cook the wax beans for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender; scoop from the water, rinse and drain as with the green beans, then add to the green beans. The cooking time of the beans will vary according to their variety and age, so watch them closely to see that they don’t overcook and discolor.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet and add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Saute over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to soften, then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. (If you’re using saffron, add it now). Add the rice and saute over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Begin adding stock a cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb each cup of stock completely before adding more. Continue to stir.

When the rice has absorbed 2 cups of stock, add the peppers and sherry. Continue to stir and add stock until you have used 5 to 5 1/2 cups. As you stir in the last cup of stock, add the beans, tomatoes, basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. At this point the risotto should be ready to serve – the grains of rice will be a little toothy, and the risotto will be saucy. Serve immediately.

*If you prefer to not use sherry in your cooking, try substituting 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for every 2 tablespoons of sherry needed, or orange or pineapple juice in a 1:1 ration. Or, just omit the sherry and use extra vegetable stock.

This lovely dish would pair perfectly with a dry white wine or some sparkling cider!

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