On a day of spectacular weather at a crowded rooftop brewery space, tables are shared with other beer lovers out of necessity, even if it’s not in your somewhat introverted nature (that’d be me). You discuss beer, but sometimes you unexpectedly discovered other shared interests.
While enjoying a weekend at the cabin recently, we stopped by the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais for a beer on their upstairs deck that has a stunning view of the harbor (I can’t get enough of their Trailbreaker Belgian Wheat Beer—yum!). Sharing a picnic table, we met a friendly young couple from Minneapolis and their cuter than cute dog Brew (yes, really!). As they enjoyed the vegetarian pho new to the menu (they are vegan), we got to talking about vegetarian and vegan food. I pulled up my blog on the iPhone and showed them a photo of my vegetarian pho and they quickly pulled my blog up on their phones. We also talked football, dogs, hiking spots, the Herbivorous Butcher, and the best Grand Marais restaurants.
Our lives intersected briefly, and we’ll probably never see them again, but they will stay fondly in my memory. While mulling over a new recipe to blog, as a nod to Brew’s vegan mom and dad (got the dog’s name, but not theirs), I decided to try something I’ve never made before, vegan risotto.
The Minimalist Baker’s vegan parmesan has graced dishes from salads to pizza to garlic bread lately in my kitchen, so why not risotto? And with the weather ever so slightly hinting of fall, why not make it a little heartier and use farro instead of rice? Oh, and corn would be delicious in a hanging-on-to-the-last-vestiges-of-summer sort of way. Farro is an ancient grain in the wheat family and contains much more protein, fiber and nutrients than white rice and has a great nutty taste. You can find it in well-stocked grocery stores, co-ops, and online.
The resulting recipe is a riff on two risottos, my Mushroom & Spinach Farro Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and a corn risotto from Minneapolis’ wonderful Birchwood Café’s cookbook. I copied the cookbook’s pairing suggestions and the resulting dish was as pretty as it was delicious. The risotto is great on its own too. Enjoy!
Vegan Sweet Corn Farro Risotto
2-3 ears sweet corn, husks and silks removed
5 cups vegetable broth or stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup vegan parmesan (quick and easy recipe follows; you will have lots leftover for other uses)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
If desired, pair with garden fresh goodies such as tomatoes, melon, green onions, green beans and a drizzle of balsamic reduction and hot chili oil (balsamic reduction and chili oil can be found at Trader Joe’s or you can make your own)
Scrape kernels from cobs and set corn aside. Break cobs in half and place in a medium to large saucepan. Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat so that stock remains at a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Discard corn cobs—no need to strain the broth.
If making the risotto right away, keep broth simmering. If not, broth can be cooled and refrigerated for several days. Bring back to a simmer before starting risotto.
Heat olive oil or vegan butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add drained farro and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine is absorbed. Add broth, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring occasionally until broth is absorbed before adding the next cup of broth. After adding the third cup of broth, stir in the corn kernels. Continue until broth is gone and farro is cooked. Reduce heat to low and stir in the vegan parmesan. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Serve alone or with any or all of sliced garden fresh tomatoes topped with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, melon balls, green beans, scallions and a drizzle of chili oil. If you don’t want to or don’t have time to make your own balsamic reduction or chili oil, Trader Joe’s has them already made.
¾ cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix/pulse until a fine meal is achieved—be careful not to mix too long, or you’ll end up with cashew butter. Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Lasts for several weeks.