This delicious risotto recipe is vegetarian, but I bet carnivores would love this with some sliced sausage or chicken in it. With March being National Nutrition Month, I wanted to share a healthy risotto recipe that is packed with quality ingredients but also tastes delicious.
I really love risotto. There's nothing better than a good, healthy risotto recipe.
Unfortunately, many risottos are made with arborio rice, which is a short grain white rice that doesn't have many healthy benefits. The difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is the whole grain with just the outer layer removed, leaving a healthy dose of fiber and nutrients.
White rice is technically brown rice that has been processed further removing the other layers, which in turn removes a great deal of fiber and nutrients.
I have several weaknesses and risotto is definitely one of them. I also had some quinoa that I made with the leftover Butternut Squash Soup. Who knew something so simple could be so delicious?
Remember, comfort food can be healthy and doesn't have to be loaded with junk. This risotto is a perfect example of that. Packed with vitamins, nutrients and whole foods, but still tastes just as comforting as a bowl of macaroni and cheese.
Why You Should Make This Risotto Recipe
For years I was always intimidated to make my own risotto because it always seemed difficult and time consuming. That is, until now.
For this dish I chose a sprouted organic brown rice, but you can easily use a short grain brown rice as well. Sprouted brown rice is basically brown rice that is able to germinate by being soaked prior to cooking. There are many nutritional advantages for sprouting the brown rice, one being that the nutrients become more soluble thus making them much easier to absorb.
Many studies also indicate that when these grains are sprouted, they produce an amino acid called GABA which has been linked to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, boosting the immune system and reducing sleeplessness . Grains that aren't sprouted can lead to poor digestion as well inflammation in the gut.
I also added quinoa to my risotto to increase the fiber and protein content. Quinoa is actually a seed but is primarily marketed as a grain due to its nutty texture.
It contains all of the essential amino acids which makes it high in protein. Quinoa is so versatile and adds a boost of nutrition to any dish.
Kale is a leafy-green powerhouse of nutrition. It is packed with iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and many antioxidants and nutrients. I chose to use low sodium broth and soup, which saves many grams of unwanted and unnecessary sodium.
I strongly believe that we should enjoy everything in moderation. These Parmesan Crisps add a wonderful, crunchy texture to this dish. And doesn't everything taste a little better with some cheese?
- Extra virgin olive oil- I usually choose EVOO for cooking, my favorite is this one
- Granny Smith apple - I use Granny Smith apples for cooking because they hold up their shape and flavor while cooking and typically don't get all mushy.
- Quinoa - I spoke above about quinoa and some of the many reasons why I love it. The fiber in quinoa can also help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Sprouted brown rice - Sprouting any grain increases its nutritional value by making its nutrients more bio-available, among them calcium. But it’s the flavor and texture of sprouted brown rice that makes it my choice in this recipe
- Vegetable Broth - I use a low sodium, organic broth to cut back on salt. This is always my go-to vegetable broth.
- Butternut Squash Soup - This creamy soup adds so much flavor to this dish! I like to use this one because it contains coconut milk and chicken bone broth.
- Kale - You guys know how much I love for all of it's many health benefits. Kale contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamins C and K, iron, and a wide range of other nutrients that can help prevent various health problems.
- Sage - I love adding sage to my dishes for tat added punch of flavor. Please use fresh sage in this recipe if you can.
- Pine nuts - I think these delicious nuts are over underused in cooking. They have a very delicate taste and texture and are high in protein which makes them especially useful in a vegetarian diet.
- Butter - I use grass-fed for its superior taste and health benefits.
- Parmesan cheese - You can easily use another hard cheese in this recipe like Asiago, Manchego or Romano.
Recipe FAQ's and Expert Tips
Yes, can also use short grain brown rice but it may take less time to cook so watch the cooking time.
Yes of course! You can easily use chopped cashews, pecans or pistachios in this risotto recipe.
Ghee can be substituted for butter in this recipe and I would just make sure you are using a vegan butternut squash soup. You can also sprinkle some Nutritional Yeast on top instead if the Parmesan cheese.
- For risotto:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 large granny smith apple peeled and diced
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup organic sprouted brown rice can also use short grain brown rice but it may take less time to cook, check package instructions
- 1 ¾ cup Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth
- 1 ¼ cup Pacific Organic Butternut Squash Soup
- 1-3 cups water however many to reach desired consistency
- 4 cups organic kale ends trimmed
- 2 sage leaves chopped finely
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- For Parmesan Crisps:
- 1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
- 6 heaping tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until they soften.
- Add apple, quinoa, rice, broth and soup. Stir until blended and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and cook for approximately 45 minutes making sure to stir every 10 minutes or so. Cook until rice is tender and al dente. While rice is cooking you can prepare Parmesan crisps (see below).
- When rice is tender, add chopped kale, stir and cover again for another 5 minutes until kale is wilted.
- Top with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan Crisps. Serve immediately.
- Parmesan Crisps:
- Heat butter in a large skillet until bubbly.
- Spoon the fresh grated cheese onto the butter, pressing down firmly with the back of the spoon, making 6 bite sized crisps.
- After about two minutes, turn over and cook both sides until both sides are golden brown.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to harden.
- Remove crisps from the skillet and place on top of risotto.