last kiss of summer risotto


I made this risotto recently for an event themed around the seasons.  It was at the start of September when it’s not quite autumn but summer is definitely on its way out. 

I wanted it to be a mix of summer and Autumn - rich and comforting black rice, with late summer squash and a freshness added from podded peas, lemon and lots of fresh herbs. It lives and dies with the stock really, so making it fresh and not using stock cubes is the key. The stock is super life-giving and nourishing and is packed full of goodness and flavour from all the veggies and seaweed.

It’s a nice one to do when you’re having people over for dinner - most definitely a crowd-pleaser. Black rice is my favourite - it has the highest level of antioxidants of any rice, it looks moody and amazing and tastes really nutty and delicious. I use a pressure cooker here and couldn’t recommend investing in one more… especially if you cook a lot of rice and legumes like beans or lentils - it halves the cooking time and they are only around £30…

I didn’t think a vegan risotto could be rich enough without cheese but I proved myself wrong - the nutritional yeast, tamari, roasted garlic and wine adds the right amount of depth but you could try adding a bit of goats cheese or feta on top if you really can’t live without the cheese.

The risotto lives and dies by the stock! How beautiful and alive to all these colours look?

The risotto lives and dies by the stock! How beautiful and alive to all these colours look?

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-5) 

For the stock (1 litre)

5 carrots

1 head of fennel

5 onions

1 bunch celery 

2 leeks

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch thyme

2 long pieces of kombu or kelp

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

Handful of peppercorns

Half a head of garlic

For the risotto

500 grams of black Venus rice

7 cloves of garlic

50ml white wine

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons of tamari

2 lemons

500g fresh podded peas (or frozen)

Pine nuts

1kg of squash (I used pattypan but you can use any seasonal squash)

Smoked paprika

Dried chilli flakes 

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 shallots

1 bunch mint

1 bunch basil


Make the stock in advance if you can - I usually make a big batch so I can freeze some for next time or use it as the base for soup. You want it to be nice and strong for the risotto so add more vegetables if you add more liquid.

Don’t bother peeling the onions or garlic for the stock, just cut in half and remove any loose skin

Wash the other vegetables and roughly chop (in half is fine) and add to the pan with the herbs and other ingredients. Cover with water and simmer on the hob for 3-4 hours until it’s flavoursome. Put the stock through a sieve and set the stock aside

To make the risotto:

Give the rice a good rinse and pressure cook it according to the instructions on your pressure cooker - usually takes around 20 mins.

While that’s cooking, dice the shallots and 3 of the cloves of garlic and soften in the pan with a bit of olive oil and a large pinch of salt

Roast the remaining cloves of garlic (in their skin) at 180 in the oven for around 10-15 mins checking them until soft

When the rice is cooked, drain it and add to the soft onions and garlic along with a couple of ladles of stock and the wine

Add the nutritional yeast and tamari and roasted garlic (squeeze out of the skin) and keep stirring and ladling more stock for around 15 mins until the rice has soaked up all the flavour and the alcohol has evaporated off

While this is happening, roast the squash with some olive oil, the paprika and a sprinkle of chilli flakes at 200 until cooked (patty pan takes around 20 mins but other squash you might need to put in the oven when you start cooking). Add the pine nuts around 15 mins before they are ready

Add the lemon juice and taste -you might want to adjust the tamari/ wine/ yeast to your taste or add more lemon if it needs more sharpness but it should be a nice balance of richness and zing.

Once you are happy, take off the heat and add the chopped basil and mint and stir

Serve with the squash and pine nuts on top with some extra mint and basil to garnish and ENJOY xx

Have you made this? I’d love to hear your feedback or if anything didn’t make sense in the recipe would be great to know :).

emily barker