Vegan Sweet Potato Risotto with Ginger Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots and Beets
In my humble opinion, root vegetables often get a bad rap! For some reason, many people don’t seem to appreciate all these varied and delicious vegetables. Yes, I’ll admit that some root vegetables (think Celeriac) are a bit homely. Some would say that these veggies, “have a face only a mother could love.” I say that they are the unsung hero of the vegetable world.
Celeriac in all its beauty!
But, give a root vegetable a chance and you will often find a beautiful, sexy and delicious vegetable underneath that humble exterior. If you get a chance, be sure to check out a couple of my previous posts on making gourmet Vegan Reubens and Banh Mi’s from the versatile Celeriac. You can find the posts here:
FOR THE LOVE OF ROOT VEGETABLES
There are always a few root vegetables hanging out in my fridge or in my root cellar (okay, so it’s not a “real cellar” but rather a cool rolling basket cart that I keep in the coolest part of my home).
I’m “that” person who buys sweet potatoes by the bushel. So, it should come as no particular surprise to anyone that I selected the deliciously nutritious sweet potato as my inspiration for this recipe. Perhaps my affinity for the sweet potato comes from the fact that it is the state vegetable for my home state of North Carolina. In fact, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States of America. ( https://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/north-carolina-state-vegetable-sweet-potato/) I won’t go into it here, but if you’d like to read a bit more about the history of the sweet potato in North Carolina, check out this great article in *Our State Magazine* (https://www.ourstate.com/history-of-the-sweet-potato/)
Although the sweet potato is the star of my dish for this creamy risotto, it by no means stands alone. It shares the spotlight with an ensemble cast of deliciously supportive root vegetables. Ginger, Fennel, Rainbow Carrots, Beets, Golden Beets, Garlic and Onions all join the sweet potato in this taste pleasing creation. …
Vegan Sweet Potato Risotto with Ginger Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots and Beets
To me, few things are better on than sitting down to a plate of rich, creamy risotto. And, this risotto goes a few steps further with the incorporation of sage infused sweet potato puree, the addition of tender roasted cubes of sweet potatoes and fresh mixed greens. Ginger Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots and Beets accompany the creamy risotto, their slightly tangy, citrus bite complementing the richness of the risotto. Fried sage leaves topping the roasted vegetables and the risotto bring a delicious, crunchy and earthy note to the party. I must admit that every single forkful of this dish made my mouth sing!
Though I usually like to include a step-by-step pictorial overview of the making of my dishes, today, I’m only including a few highlight photographs. Cooking a proper risotto requires a bit more hands on attention. My hands were busy keeping that beautiful arborio rice stirred to release all it’s starchy goodness and adding hot broth at just the right time. So, worth it!!
1. Loving Those Root Vegetables
2. Roasting The Sweet Potatoes
3. Roasting the Carrots
4. Slicing Fennel Bulb for Roasting
5. Roasted Beets Nestled in Foil…Ready to Be Peeled and Sliced
6. Making the Sweet Potato Puree
7. Frying Sage Leaves for a Finishing Touch
8. Ready to Eat: Vegan Sweet Potato risotto with Ginger Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots and Beets
And Now…..The Recipes!
Ginger Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots and Beets
8 oz. baby rainbow carrots (thoroughly washed and sliced in half lengthwise)
8 oz. beets (thoroughly washed)
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mild vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1 T. grated or finely minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 orange, juice
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Wrap each individual beet in a square of foil (or you can just omit the foil) and place them on a parchment lined pan. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven, let cool, peel and thinly slice.
While the beets are cooking:
Slice off the root end and trim the stalks and feathery fronds of the fennel bulbs. You can save the fronds for garnish. Or, you can use them to make stock. The bulbs should then be cut in half, the tough inner core removed and thinly sliced.
Line two separate baking sheets with parchment paper and put sliced fennel and carrots in separate pans. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt (if desired) and pepper.
Place in oven and roast, uncovered 7-10 minutes.
In the meantime, put all remaining ingredients in a blender jar and blend until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and mixed.
Remove pans from oven and cut oven off. Divide liquid evenly and pour over pans of carrots, fennels and sliced beets. Cover pans with foil and place back into cooling oven until ready to serve.
Creamy Vegan Sweet Potato Risotto
This elegant vegan risotto is flavored with a smooth sweet potato purée, roasted sweet potato, fresh mixed greens, crispy sage leaves and brown butter.
Though preparation of this dish is time consuming, it was totally worth it! The end result is creamy, flavorful and a delight to look at. Once the ingredients are gathered, prepare your mise en place, making sure everything is ready to go before starting to cook. This dish is very “hands-on”, requiring constant stirring during the cooking process.
• Serves: 2 to 4 (I doubled the recipe to meet the needs of my family and to insure generous servings)
• Active Time: 1 hr 45 mins
• Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Ingredients and Method
• 3/4 lb sweet potato
• 2 garlic cloves
• 4 large sage leaves
• 2 tbsp butter (non-diary butter, of course)
• 3/4 cup vegetable stock (approx.)
• sea salt, to taste
First preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C). To prepare the purée, first wash and peel the sweet potato. Cut the potato into approx. 3/4″ -inch cubes. Peel the garlic. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sweet potato, the whole garlic cloves and the sage leaves. Add the stock and season liberally with salt. Bring the sweet potato to a gentle simmer. Loosely cover just the top of the sweet potato with a piece of vented foil. Simmer gently until the sweet potato is completely fork tender. While you are waiting for the sweet potato to cook, jump to Step 2 to prepare the rest of the sweet potato. Once the sweet potato is tender, remove the sage leaves and discard. Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a blender (I had to do this in two batches to get maximum smoothness) and puree until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Make sure to hold the lid with a cloth to ensure the top does not explode from the heat of the mixture. Taste the puree for seasoning. Transfer to a small pot and keep warm.
Step 2: Roasting the Sweet Potato
• 1/2 lb sweet potato
• 1 to 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• sea salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the sweet potato into 1/2″ -inch cubes. Toss with the oil and season to taste with salt.
Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for approximately 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. (Don’t do like I did and burn the first batch. Had to redo this step. Luckily, I had a few more sweet potatoes on hand.)
Once done, remove from the tray and set aside.
### Step 3: Frying the Sage Leaves
• 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves*
• 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
To fry the sage leaves, place the oil into a small fry pan or pot and heat over medium heat.
Make sure the leaves are clean and thoroughly dry.
Once the oil is between 275° to 300ºF (or 135° to 150ºC), fry the sage leaves. Using a slotted spoon, lower the leaves into the oil. Be careful of any splattering oil. Fry them for about 5 to 10 seconds or so, just until they become even in color. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.. Set aside.
Step 4: Making the Sage Brown Butter
• 1/2 cup vegan butter
• 10 to 15 sage leaves
• To make the sage brown butter, place the butter into a small, stainless-steel fry pan over medium heat.
• Stir occasionally to make sure that the butter does not burn. As you stir, the butter may start to foam. Continue to cook until the butter browns evenly.
• The impurities in the butter will likely turn quite dark but just pay attention to the color of the butter to ensure it does not burn. You are looking for a nice rich golden color.
• Once done, add the sage leaves and remove the butter from the heat. You may need to transfer the butter to another pot to stop the cooking process.
• Once the butter has cooled slightly, remove the sage leaves. Strain the butter through cheesecloth several times to get rid of any brown specks.
• The butter can be stored in a small squeeze bottle and warmed just before using. Alternatively, place it into a bowl and set it aside for now. See note below on storing leftover butter.
Step 5: Preparing Your Mise en Place
• 2 1/2 cups stock
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
• 1/2 cup onions
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 cup risotto rice (see note)
• 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
• 2 cups mixed greens or arugula
Note: For the liquid, use a combination of 1/2 water and 1/2 stock so you don’t over power the flavor of the puree. Always keep in mind that more or less liquid may be needed to cook this dish. It’s always better to have too much than not enough.
To prepare your mise en place, place the liquid into a pot, season with the salt (if needed) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and keep hot.
In the meantime, finely dice the onions and garlic.
Note: For this dish, it is important to use rice that is suitable for risotto. I use Arborio rice.
Measure out the rice, olive oil and white wine. Wash and spin dry the mixed greens. Set aside.
Step 6: Starting the Risotto
Place the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pan and heat over medium to medium-low heat.
Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sweat until soft and translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Next, add 1/4 cup of the hot cooking liquid to soften the onions further. Let the cooking liquid completely evaporate before moving onto the next step.
Step 8: Cooking the Risotto
Once the wine has evaporated, add one cup of the hot liquid. Stir often to coax the starches out of the rice. Once almost absorbed, add 1 to 2 cups of the warm sweet potato puree and continue to stir. Once the puree thickens and reduces, go back to adding the hot cooking liquid. Add the next cup of liquid only when the last cup has been absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently. During the cooking process, make sure to adjust the heat so the liquid is always gently boiling.
Continue to add liquid and cook the risotto until it reaches the al dente stage (or until it is done to your liking). Start tasting the rice for doneness around the 15 minute mark.
Note: Any leftover sweet potato puree can be frozen and used another time.
Step 9: Finishing the Risotto
1 to 2 tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
Once the risotto has been cooked to your liking, taste it for seasoning. Stir in the butter (or olive oil). Fold in the roasted sweet potato and greens. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes.
Just before serving, add a bit of hot liquid to loosen the consistency, if necessary. Plate on warmed dishes. Top with fried sage leaves and a drizzle of warm sage brown butter. Serve immediately.
Brown butter can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few weeks.
Hope you loved this post. Please leave a comment below and let me know. I would love to have the opportunity to talk to you and to get to know you and you me.
See you tomorrow!