BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Eau de Risotto

30 Comments

Perfume is one of the greatest public threats, especially when lavished with careless excess. Smelling good is an admirable desire, one to be encouraged for sure, but the chemical cocktails that some hapless souls feel compelled to bathe in are far more offensive than a little B.O. Sensitivity to scents is on the rise, perhaps from overexposure, but the average cologne has simply never appealed to me, always too pungent and completely unfamiliar. If I ever wanted to smell like something other than myself, it wouldn’t be an indescribable aroma defined only by a brand name, but something edible. Anyone who knows me probably saw this one coming, but food scents are a completely different story, literally adding a welcome spice to the day.

For years, vanilla extract was my perfume of choice; a dab on the wrist and behind the ears set me in the right mood for a day at school. Floor cleaner is best in lemon, that bright citrus simply screaming out “I’m clean!” far clearer than any product touting itself as ocean wave, or the equally mysterious “fresh rain.” Likewise, my hand soap smells like tomato vines and body lotion has notes of cucumber.

Call me scent-sensitive, but these omnipresent aromas affect not only my mood, but also my cravings in a big way. That fact became abundantly clear as soon as a new grapefruit facial scrub was incorporated into the daily beauty routine. Within just a few washes, I found myself yearning for a taste of that bold, sour, sprightly flavor. Never mind that it had been years since I last sampled this blushing citrus fruit- I suddenly couldn’t get enough, eating them straight and incorporating the segments into just about everything.

That’s where this highly aromatic risotto came in. Perfumed with grapefruit, juicy chunks of the flesh are sprinkled throughout, bursting with bitterness that perfectly cuts the rich, creamy base. Accented by the spice of wasabi and a topping of peppery watercress, it’s a lively savory side that may very well steal the show at dinner time. Don’t fight those strong flavors, but pair it with a more mild protein, such as tamari-baked tofu or a simple chicken-style seitan cutlet. Otherwise, feel free to turn it into a one-pot meal by adding in a can of rinsed chickpeas, or 2 cups of shelled fava beans for a real seasonal treat.

No matter how many offensive scents you may encounter in your daily trials and tribulations, the aroma of this risotto bubbling away on the stove will surely set you right.

Grapefruit and Wasabi Risotto

2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
1 Leek, Thoroughly Washed and Thinly Sliced (White and Light Green Parts Only)
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1/4 – 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Sushi Rice
3 – 4 Cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock, Warmed
1/4 Cup Mirin
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1 Large Pink Grapefruit
1/2 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Creamer or Coconut Milk
1 1/2 – 3 Teaspoons Wasabi Paste*

To Finish:

1 Medium Ripe Avocado
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 – 4 Ounces Watercress
Avocado or Olive Oil (Optional)

*The amount of heat that wasabi paste packs varies greatly depending both on brand and age. Most are still mixtures of horseradish and vinegar, but what’s more concerning is the occasional inclusion of milk-based additives, so read labels carefully. The longer you keep a tube in the cupboard, the less spicy it will taste, so keep that in mind as you begin to incorporate it into your cooking and adjust the quantities accordingly.

Set a large saucepan over medium heat and warm the oil before adding in the leek and garlic. Saute for 5 – 8 minutes, until softened and aromatic, before stirring in 1/4 teaspoon salt to draw out more of the vegetables’ moisture. Incorporate the rice, stirring to coat, and cook until translucent; about 3 – 4 minutes.

Pour in the first cup of warm vegetable stock, mirin, and nutritional yeast, reducing the heat to medium-low, keeping the liquid at a gentle simmer. Stir periodically, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot with your spatula to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning. Once the liquid has mostly absorbed into the grains, add in another cup of vegetable stock.

Meanwhile, zest the grapefruit and hold the zest off to the side. Supreme the fruit, lightly chopping the segments into bite-sized pieces.

After about 25 minutes of cooking, the liquid should have absorbed into the rice, and the rice will be creamy but tender. Turn off the heat and add the creamer, grapefruit zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste, stirring thoroughly. Gently fold in the chopped grapefruit pieces, being careful not to smash them or break them up further. Add more salt or wasabi paste to taste.

To serve, thinly slice the avocado and toss it in the lemon juice. Spoon out the portions of risotto into bowls and top each one with a few slices of avocado and a generous handful of watercress. Drizzle with an additional drizzle of oil if desired. Enjoy immediately while piping hot!

Serves 3 – 5 as a Side Dish

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

30 thoughts on “Eau de Risotto

  1. I am super scent-sitive too! For me, smells have to “go together” for instance, my bodywash and shampoo are oatmeal & shea butter, my perfume is a coconut variation, and my lipgloss is warm sugar vanilla. (Deoderant and lotion=scentless!) I could never wash my hands with orange scented soap and then put on lavender lotion. YUCK!
    ps. this dish looks delish! :)

  2. Love, love, love grapefruit. I never would have thought to use it in risotto. Very inventive and I’m very curious to try this dish.

  3. The flip side of this is that this risotto could also be dessert if you chose, just dump the savoury elements, up the coconut milk quotient and add a bit of sweetener of your choice (say coconut sugar) and voila…dessert! :)

  4. Well, this is interesting; I just finished eating my daily breakfast of a grapefruit. I peel them, remove all the pith, and eat them as I would an orange. What a brilliant addition to a risotto!

  5. Risotto with grapefruit? Who would have thought? (Well you, obviously–ha.) This flavor combination sounds so intriguing!

  6. What?! Grapefruit risotto?! I’m just bowled away by the concept…I have to try it soon.

  7. Haha I’m smell sensitive too! I often go on walks or run around the block and always meet someone sweating which mixes with their deo scent – ewwww!
    But this risotto looks gorgeous, I don’t know whether to classify it is as a sweet or not :P
    Yum!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  8. I am very sensitive to scents as well- if you are wearing perfume, I KNOW it haha. Plus smells have such a huge impact on my mood and hunger! If I smell warm cookies I am both immediately comforted and starving even if I just ate.

    What a unique combination of flavours for risotto! So creative!

  9. My goodness, with combination I think you’ve just become my boyfriend’s favourite blogger of all time! His two favourite ingredients mixed in a way I would never had imagined – this risotto looks and sounds delicious :D

  10. I totally agree, I am super sensitive to scents and prefer something more food based, like citrus. This risotto sounds intriguing, I’ve never been brave enough to make my own risotto, and never would have thought to add citrus to it.

  11. I would love to smell like my favorite vanilla cake. There is nothing better! I am also super sensitive to perfumes and most of it drives me crazy. This risotto looks and sounds amazing. I’m sure the smells emanating from this dish are out of this world! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  12. This sounds so wonderful, Hannah! What a complex flavor. I was thinking yesterday about what to do with the jar of wasabi that I’ve had sitting in the pantry for so long, and with a counter full of avocados and grapefruit, I think I’ve found just the thing! Thanks for another beautiful recipe!

  13. what a creative risotto! and looking at the ingredients, i am so excited to try this! i have wasabi powder..could i make it into the paste that’s in the ingredient list, or maybe use it instead..like a teaspoon or so?

    also, i have always been the same way about perfume. i’ve never been able to wear the stuff, even when i was young and naive about the ingredient list. i just hate not smelling like myself. vanilla extract is such a fantastic idea that i will have to try!

    • Powdered wasabi won’t taste quite as bright or clean, but it can work in a pinch. You’ll want to rehydrate it first before incorporating it, since it takes time for the flavor to develop. Mix about 1 teaspoon of powder with 1 1/2 teaspoons of water, and let that sit for at least 10 minute before using. Add more to taste once the risotto is done cooking, since it’s less pungent as well.

  14. This risotto sounds lovely. Grapefruit is one of those things that I don’t eat a lot of because I can’t think of ways to eat it other than to slice it in half and eat it with a spoon which inevitably leads to grapefruit juice in the eye. So I’m glad to have another way to eat it.

    And I don’t wear a lot of scented stuff either because they give me headaches. If I do wear any it’s going to be vanilla or the blood orange scent from Pacifica. That’s it. And in both cases I end up wanting either cookies or oranges.

  15. I thought I was the only one who was scent sensitive. The worst is when the offending person leaves and doesn’t take their smell with them. :-( Your risotto though, puts a big smile on my face. So bright and yummy looking! :-)

  16. I would definitely love to smell like risotto if it really meant smelling like grapefruit! I can’t stand some of the weird artificial scents people wear…although now I’m thinking maybe I should use almond extract as perfume from now on…

  17. I’m scared of grapefruits.

    But i’m definitely with you on the aroma front! Nothing worse than being wafted past by a lady flaunting her new eau d’expense and almost choking to death! I love the smell of my EcoVert lemon floor cleaner!

  18. So interesting this recipe for risotto…grapefruit and wasabi…sounds and looks very summery.
    Thanks for the recipe Hannah and hope you are having an enjoyable week :)

  19. What an adventerous recipe! I really like the idea of adding grapefruit to risotto. I can just picture eating this with a crisp, fruity white wine on a warm spring night!

  20. that is one crazy awesome combination! i dont like any perfumes on me. i do however like some very particular not too strong ones on hubbs..;) plus if i step into the kitchen for anything ia m sure to have enough spice smells all over my hair and body. :)

  21. oh wow, this sounds like one incredible risotto!! i am relatively new to grapefruit, but have been totally loving it. might have to try this one :)

  22. look delicious… thanks for sharing…

  23. Wow, awesome flavor combo in this! Grapefruit is amazing, such a versatile fruit. Love the tang.

  24. My all time favorite “house freshener” is freshly baked bread. I can’t stand the smell of all those plug in thingies!! And this risotto sounds fantastic!

  25. What a wonderful recipe!

  26. I love home-made risottos a lot but yours is a very inspiring one, my friend! I would have never thought of these awesome combinations! Cool!

  27. Hi Hannah,

    I usually prepare mushroom risotto at home and was pleasantly surprised to read this recipe. I discovered avocado just recently and so far I only made salads. I am Italian so we usually follow the Mediterranean diet. However I found your recipe a cool idea. I never thought that you could use avocado to make also a risotto. I am going to try it soon and let you know the results :-)
    Alessandra

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