The Key Ingredient Swap For Vegan Risotto

Rice has our sympathies because it can often be buried beneath stews and sauces. Additionally, it's served as an accompaniment to other main courses. Now, sure, you'll sometimes see rice as the star player, making headlines in fried rice or Nigerian jollof rice, but for the most part, it's cast aside as just another side dish. Risotto, though, is one of the few exceptions. Creamy, salty, and buttery, this rice-based dish doesn't require a whole lot of ingredients and can be found in many upscale restaurants, per The Kitchn. It also pairs quite well with mushrooms, chicken, and seafood like mussels and lobsters.

The short ingredient list, which typically consists of risotto rice, butter, wine, stock, cheese, and spices (per Food Crumbles), deceptively hides behind the tedious and rather time-consuming cooking process. One must stand in place to constantly stir the rice and wait for each grain to absorb repetitive ladles of stock. Such a cycle continues till the end of time until one day in the near future, the rice finally cooks to perfection.

Luckily, everyone is able to enjoy such a labor of love, and that includes vegans. In this case, opt for vegan butter and/or vegan wine, swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock, and axe the parmesan cheese. Easy, right? Except that cheese is crucial to adding those salty and creamy elements to risotto. So here's our favorite cheese substitute for the best-ever vegan risotto.

Nutritional yeast, anyone?

According to Healthline, nutritional yeast is the deactivated derivative of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is commonly found in beer and bread. It contains a host of health benefits, like antioxidants and potentially lowered cholesterol levels, and is dairy-free, sugar-free, and of course, vegan. Food Network states that it's similar to powdered parmesan and can be used in a wide variety of snacks and meals, like popcorn, tofu, potatoes, and risotto. And like parmesan, nutritional yeast tastes nutty and savory and becomes creamy when heated with other ingredients, per Henry Ford Health.

To use nutritional yeast, simply sprinkle some on top of the finished risotto, or, if you wish to incorporate it throughout the dish, just follow MasterClass's advice: Add the nutritional yeast, along with vegan wine and your broth of choice, to the sautéed vegetables and grains, and proceed throughout the cooking process as normal. Vegan risotto isn't hard to make. It just requires a few simple swaps, as well as some "cheesy" nutritional yeast, to become just as rich and flavorful as traditional risotto dishes.