Kunal Desai

Cooking With Kunal: Cheesy Vegetarian Risotto by Admin

Cooking with Kunal Desai

The title of this post sounds like a new show on the food network, doesn't it?  Well, maybe one day. Kunal is my Indian brother from another mother, and we met when we were both fellow assistant hip hop instructors for our friend Amina, who owns District Groove.  Ever since then, we've been known to bust a move on a dance floor or two, and just hang out when we get the chance.

Interestingly enough, Kunal lives about 10 minutes from me, yet we only see each other every once in awhile. We decided to figure a way to get together more, and at the same time, enhance our awesomeness skills.  That's right, awesomeness.  So, we've decided to take on cooking.  There's one catch though.  He's Vegetarian.  And if you know me, I... am not, but of course, I can eat anything vegetarian friendly.

We figured it would be easy to pick up some cuisines where meat was optional.  First up, Italian!  The recipe we decided to try was a cheesy vegetarian risotto.  The recipe pretty much derived from Rachel Ray's Green Risotto Recipe. The only thing we did was change out the vegetables of our choosing, which were tomato, broccoli, and a green bell pepper. Here is the original recipe


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
  • 1 pound triple washed spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls, chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated or ground
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 or 3 handfuls


Bring water and stock to a boil, then reduce heat to low to keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium to medium high heat. Add onions and saute 3 minutes. Add arborio rice and saute, 2 or 3 minutes more. Add wine or sherry and allow liquid to absorb, 1 minute. Add 1/2 the stock or broth and reduce heat slightly. Simmer, stirring frequently until liquid is absorbed, then add more liquid, a few ladles at a time. When liquid cooks out, ladle in a bit more.

When risotto has cooked almost to al dente, about 18 minutes, fold in spinach, basil and parsley. Season risotto with nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir in any remaining broth. Risotto will cook 22 minutes, total. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.

Here are some photos of our process and the final result.  It turned out great and I'm looking forward to the next edition of, Cooking With Kunal.

Kunal slicing tomatos, and hopefully not a finger.

Tomatos, green peppers, and broccoli prepped and ready

Getting the pan ready with some butter and olive oil

After we sautéed the onions, we added the arborio rice

After letting the arborio rice soak up the wine we added, it was time to add the vegetable broth.

The vegetables were added towards the end, right before the final ladles worth of broth were about to poured in.

Adding some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top

Vegetarian Cheesy Vegetable Risotto Ready To Eat!