Recipes
Risotto + Miso: An Untraditionally Delicious Pair
Our minds were blown with this dynamic duo.
01-06-2022
Samantha Block

Risotto wears many hats. Sometimes it’s a quick weeknight dinner. Sometimes it’s served at a fancy pants restaurant. Thanks to copious amounts of butter and Parmesan, plus starch—heavy arborio rice, risotto is a bowl of hearty, rich, and luxuriously creamy goodness. 

Here at ATK, we’ve developed many risotto recipes over the years. In thinking about new approaches, our test cooks were inspired by a decidedly non-Italian ingredient: miso.

Miso contains a lot of things we love: It makes food creamier, it’s savory, it adds an umami meatiniess without any meat. So what if we put risotto and miso together? Is it traditionally Italian? Not really. Is it delicious? Absolutely. 

(And by the way, this recipe does not require butter or cheese, and it tastes every bit as luxurious.)

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I like to think of miso paste as umami paste. It’s made from fermented soybean and is prized for its ability to add complex, savory flavor to soups, dressings, sauces, and pickles. Turns out, it also makes one heck of a creamy risotto. 

Testing with other dairy alternatives in risotto simply fell flat. Cashew cheese, for example, turned the risotto sticky and pasty. Store-bought vegan Parmesan made it plastic looking (and tasting). Chia seeds speckled the rice with unappealing globules. We even tried doubling the olive oil which made the risotto overly greasy.

We began to give up hope until we stumbled upon the use of miso, and it was a serious breakthrough. Not only did miso give us killer flavor, it also acted as a thickener, giving the risotto a satiny gloss. To complete the ensemble, we added cremini mushrooms and dried porcini, making this the ultimate meatless-meaty creamless-creamy meal. 

As a risotto lover myself I can say wholeheartedly that this recipe is the real deal. It’s luscious, savory, complex, and super comforting without weighing you down. After all, you can always have butter and Parmesan tomorrow

Miso Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • ⅓ cup white miso
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Bring broth, water, and miso to boil in large saucepan over high heat.; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until miso is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cover to keep warm. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add cremini mushrooms, cover, and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes longer; transfer to bowl. 
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and porcini mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 5 cups hot broth mixture, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 16 to 18 minutes, stirring twice during simmering. Add ¾ cup hot broth mixture and browned cremini mushrooms to risotto and stir gently and constantly until risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and let sit off heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, adjust consistency with additional broth mixture as needed.