From Ashley: This is a plant-based version of that tried-and-true classic I first learned how to make. Cashew cream is woven throughout the finished risotto, and mushrooms are dry sauteed before being seasoned with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and parsley.
1 pound cremini or button mushrooms, brushed or wiped clean and thickly sliced
1/2 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Cashew Cream (Optional but Recommended)
1/3 cup raw cashews*
1/3 cup filtered water
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup room-temperature dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1–1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Garlicky Mushrooms
You’ll want to make the mushrooms first, because it’s impossible to successfully multitask once the risotto gets started.
Heat a large sautee pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 minutes, or until there is just the tiniest amount of mushroom liquid remaining and they have a deep, golden-brown glisten to them, nudging them around the pan as needed to prevent burning. It will initially seem like the mushrooms might burn but this is about the point when they will release their liquid.
Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the olive oil, parsley, garlic, and sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes, or until the garlic scent mellows and the parsley wilts. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the Cashew Cream (Optional but Recommended)
Add the cashews and filtered water to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until completely smooth and creamy. Place within reach of the stove.
For the Risotto
Heat the vegetable broth and water in a large stockpot over low heat until hot and simmering. It’s important to keep the broth hot throughout the cooking process.
Add the olive oil, shallots, and garlic to another large saut pan and cook over medium-low heat for 2–4 minutes, or until the shallots are just starting to soften, stirring occasionally.
Okay, from here on out, no straying from the stove. Grab your favorite wooden spoon and get comfortable.
Add the Arborio rice to the pan and toast, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes, or until the rice is pale golden and mostly translucent with just a small fleck of white in the center of the grain. Take your time with this step as it’s important to break down the wall of the grain so that it can absorb liquid as it cooks.
Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid is almost absorbed, stirring constantly.
Increase the heat to medium, and use a ladle to add approximately 1/2 cup of the hot vegetable broth to the pan. Use figure-eight motions to stir the rice constantly as it absorbs the broth. When nearly all of the broth has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup broth.
Repeat this process, adding broth, stirring constantly, and never leaving the pan, until the risotto is thick, creamy, and tender. You might not need to use all of the broth, so test for doneness. This typically takes 20–25 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cashew cream (if using), lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper to taste.
Divide the risotto among bowls and top with the mushrooms.
Be Kind to Your Blender | If you’re not using a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix or Blendtec), soak the cashews in water for 2 hours or boil them for 10 minutes to soften before blending.
No Nuts? No Problem | To keep this dish nut-free, simply omit the Cashew Cream.