Creamy brown rice risotto is possible, but you have to know the secret… Parboiling.
^^ parboiled rice
Basically, the trick is to boil the brown rice for 15 minutes before you begin the recipe. This gives the rice a nice head start. After all, it has a long way to go to get from nutty and chewy to tender and creamy. Don’t be fooled, risotto is still a sweat-inducing labor of love! But if you have ever wanted a healthy whole grain version (and I hope you have!), it is actually quite easier than you think.
Staying true to the season, pumpkin is the star here. Not only does it give this recipe a punch of autumn goodness, it also lends a velvety, milky texture to the risotto. I used a can, but feel free to use a fresh pumpkin and puree it yourself! As for the veggies, the mushrooms and spinach were a no-brainer, but the zucchini was a fun little addition that I threw in after coming across this recipe. After all, when it comes to vegetables, the more the merrier.
This recipe is hearty, healthy, and completely filling! For a little protein boost, I recommend topping with a poached egg (6g protein), or serving alongside a simply prepared fillet of fish, such as sole (11g protein for a 3 oz fillet), or a rotisserie chicken (23g protein for 3 oz of chicken breast).
Brown Rice Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Spinach
Serves 4 (makes 6 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
- 4 cups (32 oz) low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 10 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (or 1 1/2 cup pureed, cooked pumpkin)
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach, chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping
- In a small pot, bring the rice and 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Let boil for 15 minutes, then drain off any excess water and set aside.
- In a small pot, heat the broth until it is hot, but not boiling, then reduce to a simmer.
- In a medium or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, and cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the parboiled rice and stir for about 1 minute to coat with oil.
- Add the wine, and stir continuously until the liquid has absorbed and the wine has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add 1/3 cup of the warm broth the rice mixture, and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process several times, until the mixture becomes creamy, and nearly all of the broth has been used. Periodically taste the rice to check the texture. If hard and undercooked, continue adding broth. (Note- this entire step took me 35 minutes, and I used all 4 cups of broth. If 4 cups is not enough, add water.)
- Once the broth has been absorbed, add the pumpkin, zucchini, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to combine, then continue stirring until the mixture has thickened up a bit and reached a desired texture, about 5-10 minutes depending on preference.
- Add the chopped spinach, and stir until spinach has wilted, 1-2 minutes.
- Remove risotto from heat, divide into 4 bowls, then top each bowl with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.
Serves 4 (makes 6 cups)
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition: 290 calories, 6g fat (1.5g saturated fat), 48g carbohydrates (5g sugar, 5g fiber), 11g protein, 120mg sodium, 0g cholesterol, 10% calcium, 16% iron, 23% vitamin C, 211% vitamin A