By Chef Linda
This should be one of your favorite risotto recipes! Light, creamy, and full of fresh spring colors and flavors, it's also vegan. While most risotto can easily be a scrumptious vegan food by using vegetable broth and eliminating the cheese, using steel cut oats makes it a healthy recipe, too. Typically, risotto is made using arborio rice, a particularly starchy type of rich that yields a creamy result when stirred frequently while cooking. Steel cut oats create a similar creaminess, but with less stirring. And oats are high in fiber and good for your heart!
Be sure to use steel cut oats or Irish oats for this risotto recipe. Steel-cut oats are groats that have been cut into two or three pieces. They are small and hard, like tiny gravel. Unlike old fashioned or rolled oats, steel cut oats have not been steamed and rolled and therefore take the longest to cook. They provide a similar texture to rice-based risotto.
Steel Cut Oat Risotto
6 to 7 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bulb fresh fennel, ends and tops trimmed, quartered and thinly sliced, about 2 cups
1 leek, trimmed and very thinly sliced, white and light green parts only, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced, about 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups steel cut or Irish oats
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Ground black pepper, to taste
Heat broth and lemon juice to a gentle simmer in a small pot.
In a large, deep pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add fennel, leek, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the fennel and leeks have softened partially. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have started to release their moisture and turn brown.
Stir in the oats, coating them in oil and toasting them for a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the hot broth 2 ladlefuls at a time. Stir to combine and cook until the broth absorbs before adding more. Continue until all the broth is gone; this should take about 30 minutes. The risotto should be tender, loose and somewhat “brothy” when done, not dry and sticky. If the oats have not cooked through and the broth is gone, add a little more, 1/4 cup at a time (or use water) and continue cooking until the oats are soft. Taste and season with more salt and black pepper, if desired.