Pea, Asparagus and Shiitake Bacon Risotto


Creamy and comforting, this risotto features subtle Italian flavours accented by salty, smoky shiitakes.


Prepare the shiitake bacon: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, liquid smoke, and olive oil. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Spread the mushrooms out on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. The mushrooms should be crunchy on the edges but still chewy in the middle. Set aside.

Prepare the risotto: Drain the cashews and add them to a blender along with the water, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast flakes. Blend until very smooth. Set aside.

Warm the broth in a saucepan or microwave. Set aside.

Sauté the onions, garlic, and thyme in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, until the onions become translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Add the white wine and stir occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the broth one cup at a time, stirring the risotto after each addition until most of the broth has been absorbed, about 6-8 minutes for each addition.

Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling water and place in an ice bath. Slice cooked asparagus on a 3-cm bias.

When the last cup of broth is added, add the peas, asparagus and the cashew cream from the blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring to cook down until as much liquid as you desire has been absorbed. The rice should be slightly al dente with a creamy sauce. Serve immediately topped with shiitake bacon.       


Adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz



For the shiitake 'bacon':

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 450g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick

For the risotto:

  • 1½ C Arborio rice
  • 3 C vegetable broth
  • ½ C cashews, soaked in water over night
  • 1 C water
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1½ C dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ C peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Serves 6