In Kauai a few years ago I went to an amazing (now closed) vegan restaurant called Blossoming Lotus (The original in Portland, Oregon is still open) and had a few incredible meals. Their Vegan World Fusion cookbook was a fantastic souvenir and I’ve used and been inspired by many of the recipes since my visit.
Many times, risotto tastes so delicious because of butter and cheese. However, I’ve found and adapted a wonderful recipe from the cookbook that requires neither. It not only tastes creamy and delicious, but is fairly easy to prepare if you have about 30 minutes. Training is hard work and it’s nice to be able to invite friends over for a meal that looks like it’s harder to cook than it is. It can also be used as a pre-race meal with a protein since it’s both comforting and fairly easy to digest, so long as you have portion control and eat about 12 hours prior to your race start time.
Asparagus Risotto (serves 2 if using as a main course or 4 if as a side)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cup filtered water or vegetable stock (or go 50-50)
1 Bunch of asparagus steamed until just soft cut into 1 inch pieces – leave a few whole
3/4 cup Coconut milk (I prefer Lite for lower fat content)
1 tbsp Tahini
1 1/2 tsp minced parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground to taste
1/4 tsp saffron strands soaked in 2 tbsp warm filtered water
Optional: pinch crushed red pepper flakes, Tamari (gluten-free) soy sauce to taste
Set up your saffron and steam asparagus until they turn bright green and put aside. Then start your risotto by placing oil in large saute pan on medium high. Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, add lemon juice and stir well. (What you’re doing here is stimulating the rice so it will cook well, so if it gets slightly brown that’s okay)
Slowly add water or stock, stirring constantly, cook until all liquid is absorbed. Then add coconut milk and remaining ingredients. Add asparagus at the very end. Keep 2 asparagus uncut for each dish and lay on top to decorate. Enjoy!
Another option: Add some sautéed garlic shrimp, about 4-5 per person medium-sized. Sauté your garlic in olive oil, salt, pepper and add shrimp cooking until they turn pink. Cooking longer will make them tough. Add on top of the risotto.