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  • Writer's pictureEmily Yeo

Creamy & Cheesy Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is serious, Italian comfort food. Have you ever tried it? When you were to ask me about my favourite comfort food during summer, vegan risotto would definitely come to our mind.

There’s just something about the creamy texture and full flavour that keeps me coming back to this Italian classic. In fact, when we go out to eat at my favourite Italian restaurant, I always order risotto. I don’t think I have ever ordered anything else. A farmer’s market favourite, this fast and easy vegetable risotto recipe is an elegant dish, perfect for weeknight meals or special occasions.

A colourful array of tender vegetables is a wonderful addition to a classic side dish that's sure to be a hit with your family. Although it’s insanely creamy, there’s no cream involved as the liquid brings out the starch in the arborio rice, giving the dish that luxurious texture.

While risotto traditionally relies on butter and cheese for flavour, it’s easily made vegan when you substitute vegan butter and vegan cheese. And while it’s usually a dairy-heavy dish, we find that it’s easy to whip up a healthy, plant-based version as well.

Everywhere you read or hear everyone is always saying just how difficult it is to make a delicious risotto! I say complete fake news. And if you are thinking: “well I really want to make a risotto but I really have to iron”, then leave the ironing for another day. It can wait! To tell the truth I really don’t make a risotto very often, but every time I do I think “I have to make more of these”. I love the creaminess and for me it is one of the best ways to eat rice.

If cheesy vegetable soup ran off to Italy to gain a bit of the country's culture, I think it would return as this risotto. I think when vegetables are swimming in a creamy, cheesy mess of rice, anyone will get on board, including those green vegetable-averse kids.

One of my favourite impromptu meals to make is risotto. At first it may be intimidating because of the steps involved but I promise you, it’s almost fool proof! Vegetable risotto is perfect because you can customise it to use the veggies you have around the kitchen. It delivers the soul-satisfying, cozy decadence that suckers me into ordering whichever entree comes with risotto every time I see it on a menu, but it is made with lighter, brighter ingredients. 

Make sure to use warm stock when making this recipe. Adding cold stock to a hot pan will cool everything down and mess up the cooking process. Keep the stock at a simmer in a separate pan so everything stays hot and cooks evenly. You also want to be careful not to over-stir while this is cooking. Stirring the rice constantly will add air into the risotto, cooling it down and making it gluey. Alternatively, if you don’t stir it enough, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn.

Babysitting the arborio rice (the short-grained, high-starch rice) properly makes the risotto notoriously creamy. The key is to not add the stock too quickly and to cook the rice slowly so that the stock is absorbed. If you dump in the stock all at once, you’re just boiling rice.

My vegetable risotto recipe is a rich and delicious treat. It is simple enough for a weeknight meal and fancy enough for a dinner party. Serve as a main course or a side dish.


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