Since the New Year, I’ve been doing #MeatlessMondays as a way to break out of my routine and not only challenge myself to try to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, but also to try new vegetarian recipes as well. Being that this is also Lent, and many of you might be searching for meatless options for Fridays, I thought that sharing one of my favorites with you might come in handy.
When I mention I’ve been doing #MeatlessMondays, more often than not, I get the reaction of “Ohhhhh, nice….I’m sure that’s good…at least it’s only one day a week.” And I think that reaction is because some meat-eaters think that a meal without an animal protein can’t be truly satisfying. Well I’m here to prove that wrong, because if that were true, I would have already given up #MeatlessMondays—probably back in January.
This recipe brings together sweet potatoes and mushrooms to create a satisfying and rich element that some vegetarian dishes lack, so even your most carnivorous friend will enjoy this!
I’m all for a recipe that has make ahead elements, and that’s one of the reasons I love this recipe so much—the sweet potatoes can be roasted days ahead of time and will be ready to go when you want to make this. One caveat, risotto is one of those dishes that requires almost constant stirring, so if you, or a helper, can’t be at the stove to stir, you might want to save this for another day. Yeah, it will be a little bit of an arm workout, but 8+ years later and we’re all still trying to get those Michelle Obama arms, am I right? If possible, I would use a dutch oven or similar type of pan—the key to a great risotto is constant stirring and an evenly distributed heat source.
So about the ingredients. Another reason I love this recipe is a lot of the ingredients are things I typically have on-hand or are easy and affordable in the grocery store. My staple items: sweet potatoes—check, onion—check, parsley—check and garlic—check. As for the things I needed to buy:
- Arborio rice. Arborio rice is unlike regular short or long grain rice. As it absorbs liquid, it takes on a creamy, rich texture that forms the base of the risotto. You can find this in an grocery store, most likely on the international food aisle with the Italian food.
- Sage. Make sure you are buying fresh sage. It really makes the difference in this recipe and helps balance all the rich flavors out.
- Stock. I would recommend you actually buy stock and not broth. Stock gives a concentrated flavor that broth just doesn’t and the stock is going to be the flavor the Arborio rice absorbs and takes on. You can absolutely use broth though. I actually used a little bit of white wine this go-around because I only had 4 of the 5 cups of stock. If you’re going to go the wine route, use a dry white so it doesn’t change the flavor or make it too sweet.
- Mushrooms. I would recommend using shiitake mushrooms, as they have a meaty texture and give a nice woody taste. The shiitake’s were a little picked over at my grocery store, so I went with some baby portabellos this time—you could also substitute cremini mushrooms too. The point is, you want that slightly meaty texture.
- Mascarpone. Mascarpone is a the slightly fancier Italian cousin to cream cheese or creme fraiche. You should be able to find it in most grocery stores by the ricotta and cream cheese, but you could certainly use a whipped cream cheese in a pinch.
Sweet Potato and Mushroom Risotto
- 2-3 sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups thinly sliced shiitake, portabello or cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 5 cups vegtable or chicken stock, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ounce mascarpone cheese (1/4 cup)
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Poke holes in sweet potatoes, rub with a small amount of oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven at 400° for an hour. (This can be done a few days before. Just scoop out flesh of sweet potato after roasting and store in the fridge).
Scoop sweet potato out of skin and place in a food processor; process until smooth.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high. Add mushrooms, onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons sage, and garlic; sauté; 5 minutes. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup sweet potato puree, 2 cups stock, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil (reserve remaining puree). Reduce heat to medium-high; simmer 8 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half, stirring frequently.
Add remaining 3 cups stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 25 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved sweet potato puree, parsley, pepper, and mascarpone.
Divide risotto evenly among 6 shallow bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped sage and Parmesan cheese.
If you have any questions or your own twists on this recipe, I’d love to hear about it!