Brown Rice “Risotto” with Asparagus & Cilantro-Basil-Parlsey Hemp Seed Pesto {Vegan, GF}

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This is the first time I have ever made a “risotto” style dish and I am pretty pleased with the simplicity of it. As I was making it I was listening to a talk between Abel James and Rich Roll that I found on YouTube. These two guys were not on my radar until a day ago when I saw someone on Instagram mention they were listening to their podcasts. I am a referral junkie and if someone says something is of high quality, I am highly likely to check it out and see for myself. So, when I was deciding between music, podcast/youtube, or quiet while I was cooking, I remembered that I wanted to see who these dudes were. So yeah- I went to Youtube and learned some interesting new bits of information.

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Within the discussion, I really resonated with Rich when he explained to Abel that he doesn’t view his plant-based diet as restrictive, rather he relishes in the diversity of the foods he eats now. I couldn’t agree more. Although I have been plantbased for nearly 5 years there are still numerous types of foods, recipes and ingredients I’ve yet to discover. Like this risotto. I mean why have I never made risotto, or eaten risotto? This is a rhetorical question clearly, because it is not an exotic dish by any stretch of the culinary imagination. Perhaps, though it has something to do with the fact that I am just really starting to engage and explore the world of cooking with intention and curiosity for the first time.  The way I eat has always been about health, sustainability, and the enviornment however, now it is also about exploring recipes, cooking techniques, flavor combinations and truly developing my skills as a chef so I can share some really delicious and healthy recipes with you all. 🙂 

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This recipe does not require to much skill in the cooking department (thankfully- for the novice like me) and its adjustable if you prefere to use real parmesan cheese instead of nutritional yeast. Its happily gluten free, made with the lovely springtime asparagus and would be perfect to eat outside in the back yard on a warm evening. Assuming you have a backyard. I do not but I have goals to get one eventually.

Brown Rice Risotto with Pesto9

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This recipe is sort of like a good chili in that it tastes better the longer the flavors mend making it a great dish to make ahead of time or to use as meal prep for yourself over the next couple of days.

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This recipe is healthy, savory, wholesome, salty and sweet!

Recipe adapted from – I love Tieghans blog!

Brown Rice “Risotto” with Asparagus & Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto {Vegan, GF}

May 18, 2015
Serves 2-4 People. 2 as main, 4 as side.
Prep time
Cook Time


  • 2 Cups
    brown rice, water as needed to cook according to package
  • 1/4 Cup
    olive oil
  • 1/2
    small onion, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup
  • 2
    garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 Cup
    white wine
  • 1
    bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch sticks
  • 1/2 Cup
    veggie broth
  • zest
    of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 Cups
    full-fat coconut milk, canned
  • 2 Tablespoons
    fresh parsley, chopped
  • Cilantro-Basil-Parsley Hemp Seed Pesto
  • 1 Cup
    fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup
    cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 Cups
    fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup
    oilve oil, + more for drizzling
  • 1 Tablespoon
    lemon juice
  • 1
    garlic clove
  • 1/2 Cup
    hemp seeds
  • 1/4 Cup
    nutritional yeast (as needed, to taste)
  • pinch
    crushed read pepper to taste
  • pinch
    pink salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cilantro-Basil-Parsley Hemp Seed Pesto
    In a food processor combine the fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and pulse until fine consistency is reach. Then transfer to a bowl and mix in the remianing ingredients by hand.

    Taste it an adjust. I like to use only a small amount of nutritional yeast, too much and I think it over powers the other flavors, but start with a little and add as you go until you are happy with how it tastes. You can use real parmesan cheese if your prefer.

  2. Risotto
    Cook the rice according to the packages directions. You want 4 cups cooked rice. While the rice is cooking, add the oil to a large high sided skillet over low heat and carmelize the onions. This takes time, and you have to continue to stir the onions so they do not burn. Low and slow is the key to carmelized onions.

    Fluff the rice with a fork, add it and the garlic to the pan with the onions. Season with salt and peper and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium.

    Slowly add the white wine to the pan and stir constantly until the liquid is absobed into the rice or evaporated. Stir in the asparagus then slowly pour in the coconut milk and veggie broth. Cook until the asparagus are tender and the risotto is creamy. 5-7 minutes stirring every minute or so.

    Remove from the hear and add the lemon zest, parsley and a drizzel of olive oil.

    Stirr in the pesto and divide up amongst plates or bowls.

    *** This recipe taste even better the longer the flavors have time to combine and mend making it the perfect recipe to make ahead of time and reheat, or to make a large batch as part of a meal prep for the next coming days.

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