Herby Vegan Avocado Risotto

With a vibrant green colour, this avocado risotto is just perfect for spring. It’s creamy and indulgent, so comforting enough for those chilly days, yet fresh and green from chopped basil and plenty of lemon. 

Overhead photo of a bowl of avocado risotto with a fork in it, with fresh basil and seasoning on the side and a second bowl of risotto coming in

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What is avocado risotto?

If you love avocados but are tired of avocado toast, this creamy vegan risotto will renew your love of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!). Sometimes you’ve got to be imaginative with your existing favourite ingredients to create your new favourite dishes, and that’s exactly how this vegan risotto recipe came to be.

Buttery cubed and mashed avocado are stirred through a risotto base, to make a dish which is creamy and full of nutty flavour.

This is a great dish to make if you’re having company, as it needs such little prep and only uses one pan. I love making avocado risotto as it’s so simple, yet the process of making it is very therapeutic. You can’t hurry it along!

Is risotto vegan?

Interestingly people don’t usually associate risotto with being vegan, as traditionally it contains lots of butter and cheese. However it isn’t these ingredients which make risotto so delicious and creamy. It’s the rice itself, which is cooked very gently until it becomes creamy and soft.

Whilst the risotto rice creates a lot of creaminess on its own, avocado amps this up even further. Avocado is a fantastic healthy alternative to butter, and brings a great nutty flavour. This means you can make this risotto recipe completely dairy free.

Photo of a bowl of avocado risotto, with fresh lemon in the background

Why I love avocados

Avocado has become somewhat of a trendy ingredient over the last few years, yet I continue to love it for the nutritional powerhouse that it is. It’s a nutrient dense food, which means it has a high vitamin and mineral content in relation to its weight.

Avocados contain more soluble fibre than any other fruit. They are also high in monounsaturated fats, which help to protect against heart disease and lower blood pressure. This makes them a great alternative to butter, which is high in saturated fat. 

The combination of fibre and healthy fat makes them great for feeling fuller between meals and stabilising blood sugar levels, leading to decreased snacking on unhealthy foods.

Not only that, they taste delicious! Their buttery, nutty flavour is not only great in this Spring risotto, but also lends itself to pesto pasta, stuffed avocados, and even chocolate muffins.

What ingredients are needed for avocado risotto?

Onion and garlic– Onion and garlic form the base of any good vegan risotto recipe. I’ve used four large cloves of garlic in my recipe, as it’s my favourite aromatic. Feel free to reduce or increase this to your taste.

Risotto rice– Arborio or carnaroli rice would work for this recipe. Arborio rice is the most commonly used risotto rice, as it is readily available. Carnaroli rice is slightly starchier and produces a creamier vegan risotto. Don’t use long grain rice for avocado risotto, as it will not have the high starch content needed.

Olive oil– A drizzle of olive oil helps to keep the grains separate. You could use vegan butter if you would rather.

Wine and vegetable broth/stock– I use a splash of wine, followed by stock to cook my Spring risotto. White wine gives a richer flavour but can be replaced by stock if you are avoiding alcohol. If you can’t eat gluten, make sure your vegetable stock is gluten free.

Nutritional yeast– Adds a nutty, cheesy flavour and is a great alternative to parmesan cheese in this vegan risotto recipe.

Avocado– You’ll need one avocado for this recipe, I’ve written a little more on picking the best avocado below.

Lemon juice and zest– These cut through the creamy texture and flavour with some bright zestiness. Add the juice a bit at a time and keep tasting until it reaches your preferred amount.

Basil– One of my favourite herbs, this naturally lends itself to Italian dishes. I would normally recommend tearing basil leaves for the best flavour, but as we want them to distribute nicely through the avocado risotto, I would recommend chopping them finely instead.

Ingredients for avocado risotto- onion, garlic, wine, oil, avocado, lemon, rice, basil, nutritional yeast and stock

How to choose the right avocado

You need to be looking for the ‘holy grail’ of avocados for this recipe. If you use under-ripe avocados, they won’t be creamy and you will instead just have hard cubes of avocado in your dish. 

If they’re over-ripe, the cubes will completely melt down into the risotto. This will be super creamy, however you won’t be left with any nice cubes to bite into. If you have to choose between under-ripe and over-ripe, definitely get over-ripe. 

To get this right, gently press on the skin of the avocado. If it has a little bit of give, without feeling completely soft and mushy underneath, then it is just right. If it’s rock solid, then it’s under-ripe.

A bowl of cubed avocado and a bowl of mashed avocado

Equipment needed

All you will need to make this recipe is a chopping board and knife, a medium saucepan for your stock, and a large pan for the avocado risotto. I like to use a deep frying pan when I am making risotto for two people, or a wide cast iron pan when I am making a larger portion.

How to make avocado risotto

To make this vegan risotto recipe, start by making a ‘base’ risotto. This is just a simple white risotto with onion, garlic, rice and stock. 

Before you begin, measure out your stock and pour it into a saucepan keep it at a low simmer. This stops the stock from cooling the rice down when it’s added to the pan, which would slow down the cooking process.

Heat the oil in your frying pan over a medium-low heat, then add the onion. Fry this off until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes more until fragrant. 

Add the rice and the olive oil and stir for 1 minute, then add the white wine. Keep stirring the risotto until the wine is absorbed into the rice and there is none left in the bottom of the pan.

At this point, you can start adding the stock one ladle at a time. Keep cooking the risotto over a low heat, stirring often to make sure it’s nice and creamy. Keep going until the rice is al dente- cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite, rather than being mushy.

Prepare the avocado by chopping half of it into small cubes, and mashing the over half. Stir the mashed avocado into the risotto, along with the lemon zest, juice, and chopped basil. 

Season the avocado risotto with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. As the last step, gently stir through the cubed avocado, so that it doesn’t break up too much with stirring.

Serving suggestions

This Spring risotto is delicious as it is, garnished with some fresh basil and a wedge of lemon. You could also:

  • Serve it with some warm, crusty bread.
  • Grate some vegan parmesan cheese on top.
  • Make a fresh arugula salad to serve on the side.
  • Use it as a base for your favourite plant based protein. Try frying cubes of tofu or tempeh and serving them on top of the avocado risotto.
  • Or serve it as a side dish for a low-carb Italian meal such as eggplant cannelloni (it serves 4 as a side).
Overhead photo of a bowl of avocado risotto, with a hand holding a fork

My top tips for the best creamy vegan risotto

If this is your first time making risotto, don’t worry! Cook your risotto slowly over a low heat. Making avocado risotto isn’t complicated, but it can take some time. It takes 20-30 minutes for the rice to absorb the liquid, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to make it. 

Regularly stir it as it cooks to agitate the grains, making sure they release enough of the starchy goodness which makes a great Spring risotto. Although the avocado adds some great creaminess, having a good creamy rice base is really beneficial.

Finally, make sure you keep the broth simmering slowly over a low heat, so that when you add it to the rice it doesn’t bring the temperature down. This will slow down the cooking process, so an extra saucepan to wash is definitely in your favour!

If you’re uncertain, my vegan mushroom risotto recipe walks you through some of the most commonly asked questions when making risotto for the first time.

Ingredient substitutes or additions

Vegetables– There’s plenty of room for creativity with vegan risotto recipes, so add your favourite veg or spring greens. This is a basic formula which is really open to experimentation. I would recommend cooking any vegetables in advance, then stirring them through at the end, unless using frozen peas or veg. It’s also delicious topped with roasted vegetables such as asparagus or zucchini.

Protein– You can add some plant-based protein to this avocado risotto. Cubed and fried tofu, tempeh, or mock meats work well in this recipe. You could also use white beans or chickpeas, or even peas. Stir them through at the end of cooking until they are heated through.

Rice– As mentioned above, I would not suggest using anything other than risotto rice in this recipe. Long or medium grain rice won’t work.

Alcohol free– If you don’t drink wine, replace it with the same amount of extra broth. 

Herbs– I love basil, but you can use your favourite herbs here. Try fresh chopped parsley or coriander for a different flavour.

Avocado risotto in the pan with a serving spoon

FAQ’s

Can I make this vegan risotto recipe in advance?

You can make easy vegan risotto in advance and keep it stored until ready to eat. However, make sure you cool it to room temperature, then refrigerate quickly. Rice kept at room temperature for too long can make you ill. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

How to reheat avocado risotto

As it’s rice, you need to make sure that you heat it thoroughly until piping hot to ensure that it’s safe to eat. Heat it either on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of water if needed to loosen it up to the desired consistency.
If you want the freshest bright green colour, stir through the avocado and basil when you reheat the Spring risotto. The avocado can oxidise when stored for longer periods of time and it will begin to go brown. 

What to do with risotto leftovers

Leftover avocado risotto doesn’t freeze well, and the grains go mushy when defrosted and reheated. If you have leftovers however, you can make arancini! Follow this post for instructions on making arancini from leftover risotto.

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Herby Vegan Avocado Risotto

Chloe from Forkful of Plants
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2
With a vibrant green colour, this avocado risotto is just perfect for spring. It’s creamy and indulgent, so comforting enough for those chilly days, yet fresh and green from chopped basil and plenty of lemon.

Equipment

  • Frying pan or saute pan

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 150 g arborio risotto rice
  • 60 ml white wine
  • 625 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 large avocado ½ mashed, ½ chopped
  • ½ lemon zest and juice
  • 1 handful of basil chopped

Instructions
 

  • Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep it on the stove at a low simmer.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, then add the onion. Fry until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes more until fragrant.
  • Add the rice and the remaining olive oil and stir for 1 minute, then add the white wine.
  • Keep stirring the risotto until the wine is absorbed into the rice and there is none left in the bottom of the pan.
  • Start adding the stock one ladle at a time. Keep cooking the risotto over a low heat, stirring often to make sure it’s nice and creamy, adding more stock once the last ladle has been absorbed.
  • Keep going until the rice is al dente- cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite, rather than being mushy. This should take 20-30 minutes.
  • Stir the mashed avocado into the risotto, along with the lemon zest, juice, and chopped basil.
  • Season the avocado risotto with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Finally, gently stir through the cubed avocado, and serve.

Notes

STORAGE: You can make risotto in advance and keep it stored until ready to eat. However, make sure you cool it to room temperature quickly, then refrigerate. Rice kept at room temperature for too long can make you ill. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Leftover avocado risotto doesn’t freeze well, and the grains go mushy when defrosted and reheated.
As it’s rice, you need to make sure that you heat it thoroughly until piping hot to ensure that it’s safe to eat. Heat it either on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of water if needed to loosen it up to the desired consistency.
If you want the freshest bright green colour, stir through the avocado and basil when you reheat the Spring risotto. The avocado can oxidise when stored for longer periods of time and it will begin to go brown.

Nutrition

Calories: 649kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 12gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 4gFiber: 12gSugar: 6g
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