Cheating Risotto…

…would make a great band name, don’t you think?

I call this Cheating Risotto because it has many similar risotto qualities; it’s a creamy, dreamy rice dish; but it doesn’t require you to forsake your life for an hour to stand at the stove and stir the pot. Don’t get me wrong, some nights that’s exactly what you want to do; but other nights there are episodes of Nashville to watch and US Weekly to read, you know? For nights like that, make this risotto, it’s a little more hands-off.

Now, that’s a cheater we can support.

Roasted Tomato “Risotto” (V) 

I bulked up this vegetarian dish with roasted tomatoes, herbs, lemon zest and a few other things. This is a meal on its own, or can be served alongside grilled chicken or fish.

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In a medium saucepan, cook brown rice in vegetable broth until tender (about 35 minutes); because we used 3 cups of broth, the rice should be tender; but there should be a little of the starchy broth in the pan. That’s what we want.

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At this point, the rice should be tender. Stir thoroughly to incorporate the remaining liquid. Instead of allowing this to steam cook, as we’d done for most of the cooking; we’re using the remaining broth to help break down the rice a little bit and release some of the starch so it will bind a bit more (hence our fake risotto).

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While the rice is cooking, roast a few Roma tomatoes in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. These need nothing more than sea salt, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to get going.

IMG_5238Resist eating all the slightly charred, smokey, savory tomatoes right off the sheet.

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Dice a handful of parsley, a few scallions, the fabulous tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic.

IMG_5240Throw everything but the parsley in a pan with some olive oil to get everything cooking together. Warning: your house will smell incredible.  IMG_5243

Add the starchy rice to the vegetables, stir in the parsley. IMG_5244

Its beginning to look alot like risotto…..IMG_5245

You can stop right here, add the lemon zest and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and have a delicious vegan meal. What I did to bulk up the protein of this was to add a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and a big scoop of cottage cheese. COTTAGE CHEESE? Yes, I can hear you, and no, it’s not that weird. Cottage cheese adds incredible protein, and blends/melts quite well into dishes. Don’t fear the cottage. But if you do, just add the Parmesan cheese and move on.IMG_5246

Finish this off with lemon zest, salt and pepper. IMG_5247

Plate with more Parmesan cheese and black pepper. IMG_5256

Now, don’t you want to cheat with this?

Roasted Tomato “Risotto” (V)
1 c. Brown Rice
3 c. Vegetable broth
3 Roma Tomatoes, sliced thickly
1 tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 bunch scallions, cleaned, chopped (green and white parts)
1 c. fresh parsley, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested
1 c. non-fat cottage cheese (optional)
2 tbs Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
Sea Salt, Black Pepper

Vegan Modification:
Omit cheeses and replace with 3 tbs nutritional yeast.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine brown rice and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil briefly, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow rice to cook until tender about 35-40 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, lay the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 25 minutes until tender and slightly charred.

In a large skilled, heat olive oil Add tomatoes, garlic and scallions, saute until soft about 3-4 minutes. Once the rice has absorbed 90% of the liquid and is tender; stir the rice vigorously to combine the remaining liquid into the rice, creating the risotto effect (The Risotto Effect, another great band name). Add starchy rice to skillet, and add fresh parsley. Turn off heat and stir in Parmesan and Cottage cheeses until well-incorporated. Sprinkle in lemon zest, sea salt and cracked pepper, adding additional to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

Vegan modification: After the rice and parsley have been added to the skillet, turn off heat and stir in nutritional yeast. Sprinkle in lemon zest, sea salt and cracked pepper, adding additional to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

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