Arborio Rice: Vegan Risotto & Atop Greens

A box of Arborio rice found its way into our Trader Joe’s cart last Sunday, along with my ambitions of finally tackling the art of risotto. This Italian short-grain rice is a member of the “grass” family, akin to corn, oats, rye, millet and, of course, wild rice.

Arborio is higher in starch, compared to say brown or jasmine rice; this characteristic lends itself to the creamy texture of risotto. Ergo, it’s an asset to the dish! I won’t try to mess with Italian assets, or their traditional dishes.


I’ve never made risotto, and I’m sure many chefs and foodies in the world would argue that this version doesn’t count. Admittedly, there was neither wine (in the cooking process) nor parmesan cheese. There was Arborio rice, and a process of stirring.

I count it, so there’s that.

risotto cooking

This recipe came to our kitchen thanks to Jen Reilley’s Cooking with Trader Joe’s: Skinny Dish. I am lucky enough to work with Jen on occasion, and snagged a copy of this a few months ago. It has proven itself invaluable in our TJ’s stocked kitchen. I rarely make any recipe by the book; these are no exception. But a huge thanks goes to Jen for her genius vegan-friendly vision. I prefer my white wine in a glass, and had no parmesan on hand.

In place of the two, this dish uses one can of coconut milk + 1.5 cups of water. I substituted in diced mushrooms for the cubed butternut squash, and added a dash of red curry sauce instead of curry powder.

racy risotto 006

This delicious combination will be undoubtedly be repeated, and gets a colorful stamp of approval from this apartment kitchen! I have a few vegetable substitutions in mind to keep it seasonal and fresh, and to keep having an excuse to make creamy risotto.


In the next experiment, there was Light Vanilla Silk (Soy-milk).

Sweet potato arborio & greens

Sweet Potato Arborio over Cooked Greens

1/2 dry arborio rice
2 tsp olive oil
1.5 cups water
1/3 cup Light vanilla soy milk (or other milk alternative)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & cubed
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg
2 cups mixed cooking greens (collard, mustard & kale)
Trader Joe’s sells a bag of “Cooking greens”, near the salad options.

Heat the oil over medium in a deep sauce pan. Add dry rice and stir to coat; add water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, and mixing in the sweet potatoes + seasonings to taste. Add the water slowly, putting more in once the liquid is almost entirely absorbed. Add soy milk, continue stirring. Once all liquids have been added, cover to keep steam in (softening the sweet potatoes), remove from heat and stir frequently.

While the rice is cooking (and you’re busy stirring!), steam the mixed greens. That’s it. They’re easy. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until dark green. Serve rice + sweet potato mix atop the cooked greens. Sprinkle with pepper to taste, and enjoy!


Arborio has been a good friend to our dinner plates and lunch leftovers this week! We’ll be having dates with this Italian “grass” more often.

What’s your favorite way to cook it?



Filed under dinners, food, recipes

7 responses to “Arborio Rice: Vegan Risotto & Atop Greens

  1. this looks amazing! love the substitution of coconut milk. can’t wait to get settled into a cooking routine here in our new apartment…likely May 1st. 🙂

  2. Can you ever go wrong with a sweet potato? The color and flavor must really make this dish pop.

    Cooking with Trader Joe’s: Skinny Dish – how can I find this??

  3. Mamacita

    I want a copy of this TJ cookbook. Let’s make risotto when I come visit!!
    Love, Mamacita

  4. That looks so creamy & delicious! I love risotto but never make it at home… this looks like I could handle it.

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