Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

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Ever since I finally caved and bought a sturdy dutch oven last month, I have found myself looking for any and every excuse to make one pot meals. Matt’s parents had us over for lunch on Sunday and I decided to experiment with a vegan risotto. The finished product was vibrant and comforting, but still healthy with the addition of colorful roasted vegetables on top. I brought this risotto along with us to my in-laws, and this is what I learned:

  1. If you put a bowl of fresh Parmesan alongside the dish, no one cares that it’s vegan.
  2. Rainy Sunday afternoon + comforting risotto for lunch + wine = me falling asleep on the car ride home.

The sun dried tomatoes lend a really nice texture and acidity to the dish, which balances out the creaminess of the risotto. If you aren’t vegetarian, you can use any kind of broth you happen to have on hand. The best part is that you can top risotto with anything! I used fresh parsley, pine nuts, and store-bought pesto. This would be great with Italian sausage as well (definitely not vegan, I know.)

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I think some people are intimidated by the thought of making risotto at home, but it is truly hard to mess up. Risotto can be time-consuming because it requires standing over the stove as you stir the broth in a little at a time, but as long as you have hot broth ready to add in along the cooking process, it shouldn’t take more than 40 minutes. You can also view this time you’re spending stirring the risotto as quiet time in the kitchen, drinking wine. That’s what I choose to do 🙂

Risotto is my go-to dish for Pot Lucks because it’s a crowd pleaser, and you can use just about anything in terms of vegetables and seasonings. I love bringing this extremely heavy Dutch oven with me with the hot risotto inside because I make Matt carry it and I can just throw it in the oven at a low temp to warm back up when we get where we’re going! Easy as that.

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

Makes 4-6 main course servings or 6-8 side dish servings

2 1/2 T good olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 small zucchini, quartered and diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

2 shallots, finely diced

1 C Arborio rice

4 C broth of choice

1/3 C dry white wine

1/2 C sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 t dried basil

1/4 C nutritional yeast (optional) or 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese if not vegan

Toppings such as fresh parsley, pine nuts, pesto, etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and red onion with 1 1/2 T olive oil, salt and pepper on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

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Heat Dutch oven or medium pot and add remaining tablespoon of oil. In a separate pot, heat broth on low/medium heat.

Saute shallots in Dutch oven for about 4 minutes, until they turn translucent. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 2 more minutes. Add wine and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.

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Add broth, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently and cooking until rice absorbs liquid fully before adding next ladle of broth. When the broth is about halfway gone, add sun dried tomatoes and dried basil and continue adding broth one ladle at a time and stirring until fully absorbed. When all broth is used and liquid fully absorbed into rice, turn off heat and stir in nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. Serve with roasted vegetables and toppings of choice and enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Whole 30 & Paleo)

My mom always baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, until it was so soft it was basically falling away from the skin. The top would perfectly caramelize, making the whole house smell like Thanksgiving. When I make it now, one bite brings me straight back to eating dinner as a family at our kitchen table in the house on Parkside.

I had some organic pork sausage in the fridge this week and thought the best way to kick off my squash marathon would be by stuffing the one I’m most familiar with a bunch of yummy things!  I have to say that this turned out so delicious, I’m inserting it into my week night meal rotation for the rest of the year. If you don’t like one or two of the stuffing ingredients, just sub it out for something else! This meal is so hearty and flavorful, I believe it has the power to convert even the weariest of the squash-avoiders.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Makes about 4 servings

2 acorn squashes

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 lb bulk pork sausage (sugar-free if you’re doing Whole 30/ Paleo)

1 small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 small apple diced

3 handfuls chopped kale

1 t dried rosemary

1 t dried thyme

1 t garlic powder

Pinch of allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 C golden raisins

1/3 C chopped pecans

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

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Method:

Heat oven to 400°

Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Brush with oil and salt. Place cut side down on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for about 35 mins, or until soft.

Meanwhile,  brown sausage in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Keep fat in there! It adds so much flavor. Add onion, apple, and celery, cooking until soft. Add kale, and stir until wilted.

Add all seasonings, raisins, and pecans. Stir until combined and remove from heat. Spoon into prepared squash and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Cooking with Squash

My mom paid a visit to Kasten Waukau Creek Farm in Omro, WI last week and came home with “$25 worth” of different squashes, which let me tell you, is way more than it sounds like. She then sent me home with approximately 20 pounds of different varieties, and if there’s such thing as overdosing on squash I’m sure I’m dancing on the threshold. I am taking this copious amount of Winter squash and turning it into a challenge; to come up with a great recipe for each one in the bag!

In an attempt to start putting all these glorious gourds to use, I baked the orange and green beauty below, pureeing, and freezing it for later. Needless to say, this is only the beginning of the slew of squash-related recipes coming your way.

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If you know me, it’s clear that I love pumpkins. Carving them, seeding them, putting them on my desk to stare at adoringly all day… But squash is so much more than just a festive decoration.

Squash is one of the original Three Sister Crops, its origins dating back over 10,000 years ago in Mesoamerica. There are many squash varieties, but they are most commonly separated into two categories- Summer and Winter. Since zucchini falls under the Summer category, I’ll wait until next year to drop all my favorite zuch recipes on you.

Squash in general provides numerous health benefits, including high amounts of vitamins A and C, reduces risk of cancer, and improves sleep. It is also known for boosting your immune system and helps manage Diabetes.

After endless Googling, I have identified the squashes Mom sent me home with. The squashes shown above (in clockwise order from top left) are:

Sweet dumpling

Acorn Squash

Musquee de Provence pumpkin

Another Acorn

Lumina pumpkin

And last but NOT least…Butternut squash!

Over the next couple weeks, I will provide you with a recipe for each of these winter squashes! I know- try and contain your excitement. If you think you are not a squash person, I hope my enthusiasm encourages you to try at least one of them so that you can discover your deep-rooted passion for these vegetables.