Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice, which is a short grain white rice. Unfortunately, it is not a whole grain so it contains less dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals than brown rice. Whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers as well as healthier body weights so I am always trying to sub in whole grains in recipes whenever possible.
I love risotto… so I had a goal to try and make it with brown rice. I scoured the internet for recipes for whole grain risotto and found very little so I tried making it the traditional way and just replaced the Arborio rice for short grain brown rice and used white wine and unsalted vegetable broth for the liquid. It took forever. I kept adding more and more and more vegetable broth and stirring and stirring and stirring and eventually after an hour gave up and ate it because I was starving and we had to be somewhere. I felt like I was on “Top Chef” with a recipe that was not working and running out of time. While the flavor wasn’t bad, my risotto tasted under cooked and was a little crunchy. It definitely was not worth the effort and I would have been eliminated had I been on “Top Chef.”.
So I thought about what I could do to make a whole grain risotto work. I thought that maybe if I cook the rice about half way first, it wouldn’t take as long and wouldn’t end up crunchy. I also decided to use some coconut almond milk instead of broth to help give it a little more creaminess and a different flavor. I’m so glad I tried to make a whole grain risotto a second time because it turned out great and I couldn’t even tell it was with brown rice when I was eating it!
Whole Grain Risotto with Butternut Squash
1 Cup Short Grain Brown Rice
1 Cup Water
1 Small Yellow Onion Chopped (~1 cup chopped)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk Blend ( I used Almond Breeze )
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Ginger, Cumin and Coriander
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon, Allspice, Salt and Pepper
1/8 Tsp Cayenne (Optional)
2 Cups Bite Sized Chunks of Butternut Squash, Cooked
Add water and rice to medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low simmer and cover. Cook until all the water is absorbed, ~15 minutes. After rice has been cooking for about 10 minutes, start heating olive oil to medium heat in a large saucepan with high sides. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add partially cooked rice and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add dry white wine and stir until absorbed. Add ½ cup almond coconut milk and stir until absorbed. Keep adding almond coconut milk in ½ cup increments, stirring until absorbed after each addition until all the milk is used. After the last ½ cup of almond coconut milk is added and mostly absorbed, turn heat down to low. Add parmesan cheese and mix in. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir in until evenly distributed. Add butternut squash and stir in gently. (If butternut squash is not warm, just heat in microwave until warm before adding.) Remove from heat and serve immediately. Pair with a fresh salad for a complete meal.