Hoppin' John Risotto

1 Bunch (About 1 Pound) Fresh Collard Greens, Thoroughly Washed and Dried, Stemmed and Chopped

1 14-Ounce Can (1 3/4 Cup) Black-Eyed Peas, Rinsed and Drained

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine or Coconut Oil

4 1/2 - 5 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced

1/2 Medium Red, Orange, or Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced

2 Stalks Celery, Diced

3 - 4 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced

1 1/2 Cups Sushi Rice*

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Water

1/2 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk

2 Tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce

1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast

1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme

1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 Dried Bay Leaf

1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

*Purists may cry afoul, but yes, sushi rice is my grain of choice for risotto. Arborio or carnaroli are the "correct" options, but I find sushi rice every bit as creamy, tender, and clean-tasting, not to mention far cheaper.

Begin by prepping all of the vegetables so that it's a streamlined process to add them all in later. Starting heating the oil and margarine or coconut oil in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat. Pour the vegetable stock into a separate saucepan and heat over a second burner on medium heat. Keep this covered, just below a simmer at all times.

Add the chopped onion into the large pot, stirring to coat the the hot fat. Sweat and saute for 2 - 4 minutes, until semitransparent and aromatic, before tossing in the bell pepper, celery, and garlic as well. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 5 - 8 minutes to soften all the vegetables, just barely beginning to brown them around the edges. Add in the rice last, stirring well to coat with the oil and vegetable liquid, for about 2 minutes or until somewhat translucent in appearance.

Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in the wine or water, carefully scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add in the coconut milk, liquid aminos or soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and all of the remaining herbs and spices. Bring the liquid up to a simmer, and once it has mostly absorbed into the rice, add in 1 cup of the hot stock. Continue to cook gently, stirring every few minutes to check on the consistency, adding in another 1/2 - 1 cup of the stock as needed. The rice should cook for about 20 - 25 minutes, until tender but creamy. In the final 10 minutes of cooking, incorporate the beans and greens, adding the greens a few handfuls at a time so that they can wilt down and not overflow out of the pot.

Always keep the mixture looking somewhat liquid-y without being soupy; remember, this is not a pilaf where you want dry, distinct grains.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaf before serving. Enjoy immediately, as the rice will continue to thicken as it cools.

Makes 4 - 6 Servings

©Hannah Kaminsky http://www.BitterSweetBlog.com