This easy, herby vegan risotto with spinach comes together in 30 minutes and it's so creamy and delicious! The rice is smoky with sage and spinach adds a boost of health and freshness. A soy-free, gluten-free recipe.
This risotto is an extremely easy dish for weeknights and if you try it once, you will--like me--be making it over and over.
What's so wonderful about it is that it is creamy and oh so fragrant with herbs, but at the same time it's quite healthy with all that brilliant green spinach.
It's the perfect meal for one of those blah days when all you want to do is curl up in bed. It takes under 30 minutes at the stove after which you can ladle out a big bowl, sprinkle on some cashew parmesan, and suddenly, everything will look so much better!
What we love about this recipe
- It is super easy to make, no skills required
- It needs just a tiny amount of prep work
- It's creamy
- It's comforting
- It's delicious
- It's healthy
What kind of rice do I need for a risotto?
A short, fat, medium- or short-grain rice with lots of starch works best in a risotto. The rice most easily found here in the United States is arborio, which has a pearly appearance. Those lustrous grains soak in the flavorful liquids and meld into the creamy, glutinous pool that is risotto.
Long-grain rices like basmati or jasmine are, on the other hand, valued for their ability to cook up in long, separate grains and therefore are not ideal for a risotto.
That said, all rices have starch, so if you don't have a choice, you could use any rice on hand and get a decent risotto. When I make a south Indian Ven Pongal, for instance, which has a risotto-like consistency, I use basmati, and it works quite well.
Carnaroli rice, albeit heart-stoppingly expensive to buy online, is a great risotto rice too.
- Arborio rice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sage (or oregano)
- Dry white wine (optional)
- Vegetable stock
- Baby spinach
- Vegan butter
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Parsley (optional)
- Vegan cashew parmesan for serving
Steps and tips
Unlike typical rice dishes where you dump the water into the rice, slap on a lid, and let it all cook away, a risotto is more of a labor of love.
While you will find recipes online for quick risottos where you can dump all the liquid in at one time, if you want an authentic risotto with the exact texture and taste, it's worth taking the time to make it right, and by that I mean to add the water a little at a time until the risotto reaches the exact level of doneness. And, you will find, it doesn't take that long at all.
I like using vegetable stock in this recipe because it's quite minimalist and therefore can use all the help it can get in terms of flavor. The wine is optional, but also nice, and keep in mind that the alcohol cooks out, leaving just tons of flavor behind.
Unlike most rice recipes, where you add water to rice in a 2:1 ratio, you will need a lot more liquid for a risotto because of the unique cookng method.
Although herbs are not typically found in a risotto, I like adding a touch of sage or oregano here.
Steps for making the risotto
- Start out by heating the water or vegetable stock. This is crucial--you don't want to add cold water to the risotto as it's cooking because that will stop the rice from cooking while the water heats up. Always add hot water or stock to your risotto.
- Next, saute the onions and garlic in EVOO. The onions should be minced fine so they melt into the risotto. Mince the garlic.
- Add a teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- Add the dry herbs to the pot followed by the rice (dry) to the pot and saute until the rice turns opaque, which should take no more than a minute or two.
- Add the wine, if using, stir, and wait until it has evaporated.
- Add a cup of the hot vegetable stock (or water). Stir, wait until the rice has absorbed it, and then add another cup. Continue this process, a cup at a time, until the rice has reached the desired consistency and is soft but slightly al dente. The risotto texture should be creamy and just slightly runny, not dry. You may not need all of the stock.
- In the last few minutes of cooking stir in the chopped spinach and vegan butter and add more salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with parsley, if using.
What to serve with risotto
You can make a meal of a risotto with a salad and there's nothing I love more than to sink into a big bowl with some parm scattered over the top.
If you have leftover risotto, you will find that it tends to dry out when it stands, because the rice grains continue to absorb all moisture. But reheated risotto tastes great. All you need to do is add it to a saucepan, add a bit of water or vegetable stock, and stir as it's heating until you get the right consistency. Always check for seasoning after adding more liquid to a recipe.
You can also reheat in a microwave. Place the risotto in a microwave-safe bowl, add some liquid, stir, and heat in one-minute instalments until you reach the desired temperature and consistency.
Looking for more vegan risotto recipes?
- Vegan Mushroom Barley Risotto (pressure cooker or Instant Pot recipe)
- Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto
- Creamy Vegan Orzo Risotto
- Vegan Black Rice Risotto
- Vegan Asparagus Risotto
Creamy Vegan Risotto with Spinach Recipe
- Large skillet
- 7 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (or 2 shallots, minced)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed and minced)
- 2 tsp sage (or oregano, dry)
- 2 cups arborio rice (or a starchy, medium or short grain rice)
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 4 cups baby spinach (coarsely chopped)
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 tbsp parsley (chopped, optional. For garnish)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup cashew parmesan
- In a saucepan heat the vegetable stock until it boils. Turn off heat.
- In a wide skillet, heat the EVOO. Add the onions and garlic with a teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper to taste. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent.
- Add the sage or oregano and rice and stir to mix in the oil. Cook, stirring, until the rice turns opaque, which shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.
- Add the wine, if using, and stir it into the rice. Always turn off heat or lower it to a minimum when you add alcohol to a pot on the stove, as it is highly flammable.
- Once the wine has evaporated, add a cup of vegetable stock to the rice. Stir it in.
- As soon as the rice has absorbed all the water, add another cup. Continue, a cup at a time, until the rice reaches the desired consistency. The rice should be thoroughly cooked but should still have a tiny bit of bite, and it should be creamy, not dry.You may not need all cups of the vegetable stock. This time, when I made the rice, I needed around 7.
- At this point stir in the spinach. Add more salt and ground black pepper, if needed. Stir in the vegan butter and parsley, if using.
- Ladle out into bowls, sprinkle on a bit of vegan parm, and serve hot or warm.
Love this vegan risotto? Check out more vegan Italian recipes at Holy Cow!