A traditional Greek risotto with beans, healthy, vegan and gluten free!
This is a traditional Cretan recipe my mother used to make very often. Except for being vegan and gluten free, it is also a great way to use any leftover beans and not waste food. Almost every time she cooked beans, my mom would make a little more in order to use them the next day in this recipe. Actually, in Crete this dish is made with any kind of legumes, most often with beans, lentils and chickpeas.
I happen to love beans, but I love this risotto even more! It has a sweet, earthy taste, and it’s also unbelievably creamy and delicious without using any cream, melted cheese or butter! How is that possible??? Beans, when slowly cooked, release a lot of starch which acts as a natural thickener and gives this risotto its creamy, velvety texture. As a matter of fact, when you cook beans you know they’re done when you see the formation of a thick, starchy sauce…
This bean risotto is not only a perfect, plant based dish, but a well balanced meal too! It’s low in fat –only a bit of healthy olive oil is used – contains most of the basic amino acids our body needs, and is rich in fiber.
I don’t usually have much of leftover food (unless I cook a whole turkey, which I’ll use in my 30 minutes leftover chicken pie the next day) because I like measuring and weighing things. When I’m in my kitchen, playing with my scales and measuring cups, I pretend I’m a crazy scientist in his lab, trying to figure out the formula for the next big scientific discovery (whatever that is, I don’t get into much thought about that). Anyway, since I don’t have many leftovers, when I cook beans I always use more (about half a cup or three quarters of a cup), in order to make this risotto the next day.
You can use your favorite beans recipe, or even some beans out of a can. In my opinion, Tuscan style beans in a light tomato sauce work best and do wonders with this recipe!
Other great risotto recipes are my porcini mushroom risotto and this mediterranean traditional chicken soup risotto. Try them and tell me what you think!
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- 2 cups white beans in tomato sauce (not drained, we need them with their sauce!)
- 1 cup risotto rice (carnaroli, carolina, saint andrea)
- 4 - 5 cups hot water or vegetable stock or even chicken stock if not vegan (* the amount of water will depend on the type of rice, amount of heat and size of the pan used)
- salt and freshly grated pepper to taste
- Heat beans in a pot over medium high heat.
- When they start to boil, add the rice and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
- Start adding the water (or the stock), half a cup at a time.
- You should stir very often because the mixture can easily stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- After adding about 4 cups of water, taste the risotto and adjust salt and pepper. By tasting it, you will also determine if it needs more cooking. Add more water if needed.
- Keep in mind that the rice will continue to cook for a while after you turn off the heat.
- When done, turn off the heat and transfer into plates.