After seeing the movie The Fault in Our Stars where they eat the Dragon Carrot Risotto, I knew I had to make it. So last Fall, I ordered organic seeds from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, and began planning a few dishes to make. I found this recipe online and veganized it. Swapping out the animal products still produced a classic, restaurant-style risotto, with a real flavor of parmesan. Caramelizing the carrots is genius, and this is good enough for company, for a birthday, or even for Thanksgiving. In the end, I did use a mélange of carrot cultivars to make this dish, because that day, along with the Dragon carrots, I also pulled Cosmic Purple carrots and Atomic Red carrots from the ground. This dish makes a lot and reheats well.
VEGAN CARAMELIZED CARROT RISOTTO
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (not canola oil)
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, divided
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely and evenly as possible (about 3 Cups)
(I used a food processor for the carrots)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 Cups vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base)
1/3 Cup minced onion
1.5 Cups Arborio rice
1/2 Cup dry white wine
1/4 Cup vegan cream cheese (I like Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup vegan parmesan, I like Go Veggie Vegan Grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon finely-chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 Tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon roughly-chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon vegan butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add carrots and stir until well coated. Ad 1/2 Cup water, salt and sugar, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and cook a few minutes more, stirring occasionally until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown. Reserve half of these cooked carrots. In a blender, puree the other half with 3/4 Cup hot water.
Bring broth to a simmer and keep hot, covered, over low heat.
In same (unwashed) pot used for carrots, heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat rice with oil, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring until wine evaporates. Add carrot puree and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.
Add 1/2 Cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 1/2 Cup broth at a time and stirring often until each addition of broth is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes). At least 1 Cup of broth will remain.
Set aside 2 Tablespoons of the caramelized carrots. Fold in the remaining carrots, cream cheese, parmesan, 1 Tablespoon parsley, and the thyme. Add up to 1 Cup broth (1/4 Cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with pepper.
Garnish each bowl of risotto with the remaining parsley and reserved carrots. Serve immediately.
Notes: Better Than Bouillon also makes a very good Seasoned Vegetable Base that would work fine. When reheating, add some leftover broth or water to loosen it up again.