Yes, you can make a perfectly cheesy, creamy and decadent vegetarian risotto by using whole grain Israeli couscous instead of rice. In fact, if you're someone who likes the chewiness of brown rice over white, or similarly, if you really like the texture of chewy grains like barley, you might even prefer using Israeli couscous in your risottos instead of the traditional arborio rice or risotto rice. The starch in the Israeli couscous doesn't break down quite the same way as the starch in the rice of a traditional Italian risotto, so the texture is indeed a bit different, but I think you'll find the finished dish to be incredibly satisfying and tasty nonetheless!
In this version of a couscous risotto, I've paired traditional risotto ingredients, such as white wine, vegetable broth and fresh grated Parmesan cheese, with Israeli couscous instead of rice and added fresh spinach, just because I always like getting my greens in, and this creamy risotto recipe is an excellent way to sneak some in. The spinach soflty wilts and blends in perfectly with the risotto texture.
See also: What is Israeli couscous?
- 2 tbsp olive oil, butter or margarine
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped (or, try 2-3 shallots)
- 1 cup Israeli couscous (also called pearl couscous)
- 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 bunch fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for garnish
- sea salt or kosher salt and pepper, to taste
First, heat the chopped onions in olive oil, butter or margarine stove top in a large skillet. Allow the onions to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until they are softened. Next, add the Israeli couscous to the skillet, and toast the grains, stirring, for just a minute or two, until they are lightly browned.
Once your Israeli couscous is lightly toasted, add about half of the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.
Allow to cook for about two to three minutes, stirring occasionally, then add in the other half of the vegetable broth. Allow to cook, stirring, for an additional two to three minutes.
Finally, add in the dry white wine, stirring to combine. Heat, stirring, for another three to five minutes, then add in the fresh spinach.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to heat until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and season generously with sea salt or kosher salt and a bit of black pepper, to taste.
As soon as Parmesan cheese has melted, plate and serve immediately. Garnish individual servings with a bit of extra Parmesan cheese, if you'd like.
See also: Our favorite vegetarian risotto recipes