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pistachio and garnet sweet potato risotto

by Jackie Newgent  |  October 22, 2015  |  4 Comments

pistachio and garnet sweet potato risotto

Food Day is October 24! The focus for this year’s Food Day is Toward a Greener Diet. So celebrate real food and say “cheers” to eating less meat and enjoying more whole plant-based foods; it’s better for you, the animals, and our environment.

Here’s a tip: If you’re not already doing so, pick at least three specific days each week to go meatless, beginning on Meatless Monday. Mark it on your e-calendar so you don’t forget! Already doing that? Keep going, one day at a time, until most or all of your meals are meat free. Small changes toward a greener diet absolutely do add up. This recipe is just one small step to help you do just that.

But that’s not all! National Nut Day is on October 22! Though you don’t need a holiday to enjoy nuts, it gives you a really good reason to get extra nutty. And since this month’s Recipe Redux theme is “A Nutty Nut Day,” it’s a perfect time to share with you my nut lovers’ risotto recipe.

This is not traditional risotto; it doesn’t involve classic risotto-making technique. I use a simplified cooking technique to make it less intimidating to fix … but the result is plenty risotto-like. An ideal “al dente” texture is created by using short grain brown rice. What’s also notable here is that pistachios act as part of the rice for extra nuttiness and texture intrigue. For still more nut goodness, this recipe uses peanut oil, cashew cheese, and additional pistachios for garnish.

Beyond nuts, this inviting vegan entrée has savory earthiness from mushrooms. Pick a unique variety from your local farmers’ market or try a mixture of sliced shiitake caps, baby bellas, and oyster mushrooms. Soft cashew cheese keeps this twist on risotto vegan while providing creaminess and slight tanginess. If you can’t find cashew cheese or don’t need the recipe to be vegan, you can use goat cheese in its place. Red Garnet sweet potato adds pops of color and a slightly sweet contrast to the nuts. Fresh basil provides a lovely herbal finish.

Try it soon … for National Nut Day, Food Day, Meatless Monday, and any day you wanna be a little greener or nuttier–or both. Or prepare it any day you just want a delicious dish!

Calories saved: 120

Why it’s better for you? It’s nutrient dense, not calorie dense. Plus, it’s meatless.

Disclosure Note: One of my clients is Wonderful Pistachios. I am also an official Meatless Monday blogger. I did not receive compensation for this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed here are my own.

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pistachio and garnet sweet potato risotto

  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
  • 3/4 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios, divided
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons refined peanut oil
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 1 (14-ounce) Red Garnet sweet potato, unpeeled, scrubbed, and diced
  • 8 ounces sliced wild mushrooms
  • 3 ounces soft vegan cashew cheese*
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Bring the broth, rice, 1/2 cup of the pistachios, the vinegar, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is cooked through yet slightly chewy, about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until the sweet potato is cooked through and mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir the vegan cheese and basil into the rice until combined. Stir in the sweet potato mixture until just combined. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup pistachios and serve.


*Try Treeline Scallion French-Style Soft Treenut Cheese in this recipe. It’s available at Whole Foods Market. Or if you prefer a non-vegan option, soft goat cheese works well.

Per serving: 400 calories, 17g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 60g total carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 7g sugars, 10g protein


  • Serving Size: 1 cup

The “Before” Version

Inspired by Classic Risotto

Per serving: 520 calories, 23g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 850mg sodium, 61g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 0.1g sugar, 16g protein

Tasteover Tips

  • Use pistachios in two ways—such as part for cooking and part for garnishing–to create contrasting texture and cuisine intrigue.
  • Consider layering flavors by using three types of mushrooms rather than just one.
  • Don’t shy away from artisan-made vegan cheese. When based on nuts, it can provide desirable flavor and creaminess in cooking.
Happy Nut Day!
Happy Nut Day!

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