Vegan Italian

standard July 24, 2011 1 response

I love Italian food. Hands down my favorite type of food. So I am always trying to figure out how to replace all the meat and cheese laden dishes with healthy, veggie alternatives. My absolute favorite Italian dish is risotto. My first taste of risotto was at an authentic, family owned Italian restaurant in Chicago on my 19th birthday. It was probably the best thing I had ever eaten, and when I got married and had my own kitchen, it was one of the first things I taught myself to make. I don’t follow a recipe when I make it, and I always make it differently every time, based on what I have on hand. Last week, I made one of my favorite versions, so I had to share!

Mushroom and Leek Risotto with Parmesan Tempeh

Serves 2.


  • 3/4 c arborio rice
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 2 T Earth Balance, divided
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 8 baby Portobello mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 c diced leeks
  • 2 c spinach
  • 1 T  + 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2  tsp dried thyme, divided
  • 1/2 block of tempeh
  • 1/4 c whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make vegan “parmesan cheese” by combining nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in a food processor or blender until ground.
  2. Heat a large pot or skillet. Melt 1 T Earth Balance, then add mushrooms and leeks. Add 1 T parsley and 1 tsp thyme and saute until soft.
  3. Add rice to the skillet and allow to toast slightly. After about 5 minutes, add wine and stir well.
  4. Add veggie broth about a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Add broth as it gets absorbed, keeping the rice mixture covered in liquid. Keep adding and stirring until all broth is added and rice is tender.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in half of the vegan parmesan, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Combine remaining vegan parmesan, breadcrumbs, and the rest of the parsley and thyme in a shallow bowl.
  7. Dredge tempeh slices in mixture, patting it down well to stick it to the tempeh.
  8. Heat a skillet with remaining Earth Balance. Cook tempeh until heated through and golden on each side.
  9. Serve tempeh on top of risotto. Garnish with any remaining parmesan.

Oh so creamy goodness. If you want it even creamier, stir in a spoonful of vegan cream cheese. Or change up the veggies depending on what you have on hand. Try adding lemon zest with the rice, and stirring in asparagus and peas instead of the mushrooms and spinach. Delicious!

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