Ultra Creamy Artichoke Risotto with Spinach Pesto and Cheesy Cashew Cream

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Risotto is one of my absolute favourite meals. The only thing that beats a risotto is a risotto cake made with the leftovers! With that in mind, after I’ve told you how to make this delicious meal I’m going to tell you how to make risotto cakes! Traditional risotto tends to be laden with butter and at least one or two types of cheese. None of that is necessary here, since the cheesy cashew cream makes the risotto super rich and creamy and in my opinion is far more flavourful than cream cheese.

People often think risotto is a chore to make. It is true that it requires almost constant stirring for around 20 minutes, and I can understand why that would put people off, but believe me it is absolutely worth it! I actually find it quite a therapeutic process, not to mention that since risotto is a labour of love, you’ll be especially pleased when you sit down to eat!

This risotto is served with a deliciously thick and smooth spinach, basil and almond pesto and crispy garlic breadcrumbs. They take minutes to prepare but make a plain, simple dish really special! I’ve used canned artichokes because I simply don’t have the time or inclination to prepare fresh artichokes, but if you do, more power to you!

The recipe makes a big pot of risotto, which should be enough to serve 3-4 as a risotto while leaving enough leftovers to make 8 risotto cakes the next day. Alternatively you could either serve 6-8 as a risotto or make 16 delicious risotto cakes. Yum wins!

This recipe is shared on Veggie Wednesdays and Simply Natural Saturdays!

The Culinary Mama

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Artichoke Risotto with Spinach Pesto and Cheesy Cashew Cream

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Cheesy Cashew Cream: 150g cashews (soaked overnight if not using a high speed blender)

250ml water

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tbsp nutritional yeast (available in health food stores)

1 tsp white/sweet miso (available in supermarkets or Asian stores)

Juice 1 lemon

Spinach Pesto: 70g spinach

30g basil

50g almonds

Juice 1 lemon

1 clove garlic

120ml water

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Garlic Breadcrumbs: 1 slice white bread, broken into pieces

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 sprigs oregano or thyme, leaves only

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Risotto: olive oil spray

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400g risotto rice

2 litres vegetable stock

2 x 400g cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

  1. To make the cashew cream, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. To make the pesto, combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. If using a food processor, process the nuts until crumbled before adding the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.
  3. To make the breadcrumbs, combine the bread, garlic and oregano or thyme in a food processor and process until fine breadcrumbs are formed. With the motor running on low, drizzle in the olive oil and process until combined. Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Lightly toast, stirring often, until golden. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. To make the risotto, have all the ingredients to hand before you start. You will also need a saucepan, a large heavy bottomed stockpot or saucepan, a ladle and a wooden spoon. Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Leave on the heat while making the risotto as the stock must be warm when used. Place a large cast iron pot or heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat and spray with olive oil. Add the onion and celery and gently saute for about 10 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  5. Add the rice, raise the heat to medium-high and stir for about a minute before adding two ladles of stock. Stir and cook until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock one ladleful at a time, stirring almost constantly, allowing each addition of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue until all the stock is used up or the rice is tender. You will have to taste the rice to make sure it’s done! Traditionally risotto rice is meant to be cooked al dente which means it will be tender with a little bit of ‘bite’. If you want it completely tender just cook for a little longer, adding extra hot water or stock if needed.
  6. Turn off the heat and stir in the artichokes and half the cashew cream. Add more cashew cream for a creamier texture if you like. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for two minutes before serving topped with pesto and breadcrumbs. Any leftover risotto, cashew cream, pesto and breadcrumbs can be used to make risotto cakes (Recipe below).

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Artichoke and Spinach Pesto Risotto Cakes

Makes 8

Ingredients

½ quantity artichoke risotto plus any leftover cashew cream, pesto or breadcrumbs

60g panko breadcrumbs

Olive oil for frying

  1. Stir the pesto into the risotto while still warm. Leave the risotto to cool then refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, mix any leftover breadcrumbs with the panko breadcrumbs and spread out on a plate. Lightly flour a chopping board or other clean surface.
  3. Remove the risotto from the fridge and use a large spoon such as a dessertspoon to scoop out about one heaped dessertspoon of risotto. Place on the plate of breadcrumbs and carefully shape into a patty while coating both sides with the crumbs. Set aside on the floured surface. Repeat to make patties with all the remaining risotto.
  4. Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. When hot add 4 of the risotto cakes. Cook for about 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown and heated through. Set aside and wrap in kitchen foil to keep warm. Repeat to cook the remaining risotto cakes, adding a little more oil if needed. Serve with a simple side salad or with roast potatoes and veggies. Any leftover cashew cream can be used as a dressing if liked.
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