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Is It Too Early For Fall Recipes?

Well, it seems that autumn has arrived early this year! I can’t say that I have any complaints. I’m definitely not a fan of super-hot weather anymore. Fall means so many wonderful things to me; hoodies (trust me I’ve been wearing them all summer, but now I won’t get weird looks because of it), beautiful changing leaves, the faint smell of burning leaves, the crisp morning air, Halloween, pumpkins, and, well, the FOOD. I try to do my grocery shopping seasonally, and I LOVE fall produce. Apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, kale, grapes…I could go on and on. I just find summer produce pale in comparison to what’s in season in the cooler months.

Now, if you know me at all, you’d know that I follow a plant-based diet. Go ahead and get your groans and eye-rolling out of the way. I’m not going to preach the benefits of this lifestyle at the moment, though I’d like to think I’m living proof. I’m healthier and I feel better than ever. I recover faster from tough workouts, I get to eat a HUGE variety of foods, my weight stays down while the amount of nutrients I take in has increased exponentially…okay, sorry, I said I wasn’t going to do that. But that’s it, for now. Promise.

ANYWHO, I figure that even if you are not vegan, you still have taste buds, and you might like to try an autumn-inspired vegan recipe in honor of Meatless Monday. Even if it’s not Monday when you’re reading this, expand your horizons and try this simple and DELICIOUS vegan recipe that’s just right for fall. Warm and comforting and, of course, nutritious and delicious! Let me know what you think of when you’re done!

This recipe is a super simple fall vegetable risotto. I. Love. Risotto. I love making it as much as I love eating it. And, okay, drinking the wine I use in the recipe is a nice perk, too. Alright, here goes…

Risotto Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs. olive oil

  • 2 cups diced-butternut squash (pro-tip: you can buy the squash already cut into cubes if you’re short on time)

  • 2 cups broccoli florets

  • ~4 cups vegetable stock

  • ½ yellow onion, diced

  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic

  • ¾ cups Arborio rice

  • ¼ cup white wine (I use chardonnay or pinot grigio)

  • 2-4 tbs. nutritional yeast (usually found in the health food section in a bag, yellowish flakes)

  • Red pepper flakes

  • 2 handfuls chopped kale

  • Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Add butternut squash and broccoli to the lined baking sheet.Drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes, until fork-tender.

  3. Meanwhile, add vegetable stock to a small saucepan and heat until hot.Reduce to a simmer.

  4. After the stock is at a simmer, begin to make the risotto.Heat a medium skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.Add 1 tbs. olive oil and the diced onion, and season with salt and pepper.Sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.Add garlic and stir to combine.

  5. Reduce heat to low and add Arborio rice, stirring to coat in the oil.Toast the rice for about a minute, then pour in the wine (and pour a glass for yourself!)

  6. Ladle in a cup of vegetable stock and stir until almost ALL liquid is gone.Continue adding stock, ½ cup at a time, and continuously stir until the liquid has been mostly absorbed each time. Repeat until the rice is al dente (soft with a little chewiness).

  7. Add nutritional yeast for a little cheesiness (and some vitamin B, zinc, and protein!) and red pepper flakes.

  8. About 5 minutes before risotto is finished cooking, add remaining tbs. olive oil and kale.Sauté until kale is dark green and tender.

  9. Remove from heat and add squash and broccoli, adding more salt and pepper to taste.Voila!Delicious, creamy, vegan risotto!

The nutritional yeast is the only tricky ingredient here, but it can be found at most grocery stores. I’ve gotten it at Giant and Harris Teeter, and also at The Natural Marketplace in town (Warrenton, VA, if you’re not local). At Whole Foods you can find it in the bulk section. I think it may even be available at Walmart now. It’s basically just yellow-colored, deactivated yeast flakes. It has a cheesy flavor and is often used in place of cheese in vegan recipes. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse, containing B-vitamins, protein, folates, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, selenium, and zinc, as mentioned above. Known in the “vegan world” as “nooch.” Everything else should be pretty familiar to anyone who’s eaten food before.

I’m a busy girl, but I like to eat healthy, plant-based, home-cooked meals as often as possible, so most dishes I make have few ingredients and take less than an hour to put together. Ain’t nobody got time for complicated, time-consuming recipes. So put all your pre-conceived notions about vegan food aside and try this risotto. I PROMISE you will not be disappointed. And trust me, that glass (or two) of wine makes all that stirring a little more fun! I’d really like feedback on this recipe so, if you make it, feel free to comment on the Instagram or Facebook post with the link to the blog. Happy Monday!

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