Butternut Squash Risotto with Portobello Steak and Hon Shimeji Saute
When Sam over at Becks & Posh posted the theme for this month's Is My Blog Burning event, I was a little stumped. There are things that butter, cream and eggs can do that simply can't be mimicked by vegan alternatives; soy butter, for instance, does not mount a sauce, it merely turns to oil. Add to that the fact that I have rarely had a vegan meal I liked - although, to their credit, I had a vegan cassolet (yes, the name flies in the face of reason) at Dragonfly neo-V a few years ago that was impressively rich and delicious. That and a soy chai white Russian. The mind boggles. But why would I want to do it again when I could have a cassolet filled with sausages and duck parts?
But I appreciated the theme, because it was challenging. The temptation to continue to add spices and other things to compensate for the lack of animal fats was large, and made me realize why so many vegetarian and vegan cooks fail, while some succeed; you can't replace the animal fats and proteins. You have to give up that way of thinking and work out what vegetable sources will harmonize.
My vegan dish turned out surprisingly tasty; I would definitely make it again. You'll have to take my word for it, I guess, because Husband was not home to try it out and risotto does not reheat very well. Will I become a vegan? Not a chance. No baker could ever become a vegan (no, they can't). No, you will never change my mind. There is no vegan alternative to puff pastry.* Furthermore, I need lots of protein and iron, and I just can't eat enough spinach, beans and brewer's yeast.
*I have decided, while thinking of vegans around the world, that this is probably not true; there are many vegans in India and naan is truly a gift from the food gods. So, don't say I'm not prepared to admit my errors...
It may seem like there are a lot of steps here, but once you prepare the basic ingredients, the risotto comes together pretty fast. Don't be scared by risotto making. It might take a little practice, but the rewards are worth it. For more tips on risotto making, click here. Tagged with: IMBB # 19 + Vegan .
Butternut Squash Risotto with Broiled Portobello and Saute of Hon Shimeji Mushrooms - serves 2
1/2 medium butternut squash
2 large portobello mushroom caps, gills cleaned with spoon and stems removed
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 tsp good balsamic vinegar
1 tsp herbes de provence
salt & pepper
1/2 medium white onion, cut into very small dice
1 small rib celery, from the softer inner part of celery head, cut into very small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced, separated
1 cup aborio Rice
4 cup vegetable stock
6 dried shitake mushrooms (available at Asian grocery stores), or dried porcini mushrooms
1 bunch (about 4 ounces) hon shimeji mushrooms (available at finer grocery stores, or Asian groceries). Fresh shitakes or even criminis (small portobellos) may also be substituted, larger mushrooms chopped in half
1/2 tbsp truffle oil
For the squash: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the butternut squash face-down in a casserole dish and add about 1/2" water. Bake for 1/2 hour or until fork tender. This can be done ahead of time, the squash will be reheated later. When the squash is cooled a bit, score it inside the shell and then scoop the chunks from the shell. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the portobellos: Place 1 tbsp good olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the herbes de provence in a large zip-top bag. Add the cleaned portobellos and close the bag. Allow to marinate for about 20 minutes, or until the risotto is nearly soft, and then preheat your broiler. Broil the mushrooms for about 4 minutes on each side, or until softened slightly, but still firm. Remove from the broiler and cut into 1/4" slices, or leave whole.
For the stock: Place the stock and dried shitakes in a saucepan over medium heat, and allow to simmer while you make the risotto; the pan should be on the burner behind the burner where you will be cooking your risotto. Have a ladle handy. You do not want to add the shitakes to the risotto, their rich flavor will enhance your stock.
For the risotto: Preheat another saucepan (4 quart or larger) over medium heat. Add about a tbsp of olive oil and then add the onions and celery; cook until almost translucent, about 5 minutes or so, then stir in one clove of the garlic. Add the rice and stir to toast, about 3-4 minutes. Add one ladle-ful of stock (I use an 8-ounce ladle) and stir constantly until the rice absorbs the liquid. Repeat this process until the rice is soft; expect it to take about 20-30 minutes. The risotto should end up with a very creamy, soft consistency with no powdery bits in the center of the rice. Be sure to taste often to correct seasoning. Add the squash and stir to heat.
For the hon shimeji saute: Preheat a small skillet over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and the other clove of garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Stir until they are nicely browned and soft.
To assemble: Place desired amount of risotto in a bowl; drizzle with just a touch of truffle oil and a little really good olive oil (if desired). Sprinkle with sea salt (if desired). Place the portobello on top and finish with the hon shimeji saute.