m. c. de marco: The New Kitchen Cookbook

Tempeh Risotto

I like this one because it can be anything you want it to be: vegan, fowly, cheesy, etc. Tempeh holds up to cooking the whole time (most risotto ingredients need to be added late in the process), and if it happens to fall apart then it looks just like the rest of the risotto and nobody knows. You can toss extra stuff into this recipe, too, like knotweed:

knotweed risotto


  • olive oil
  • 1 large leek, medium shallot, or small onion, chopped
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced (optional)
  • ½ slab tempeh (LightLife or Trader Joe’s organic tempeh are the right size)
  • 1 c. arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
  • ¼ c. white wine (optional)
  • 2 c. or more chicken or vegetable stock
  • water to supplement the broth–if you need to soak or blanch an extra, use that water.
  • ⅓ c. grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)
  • extras: peas, chopped asparagus, mushrooms, basil, etc. (optional)


  1. Start the stock and water (at least 3 cups total) boiling in a small pot on another burner.
  2. If you are using an extra like mushrooms that needs some cooking outside of the risotto, fry them in the risotto pan first, then remove. (Leave any juices behind for the risotto.)
  3. In your good risotto pan, fry the onion-like thing in olive oil at medium heat until (somewhat) transparent.
  4. Add garlic and fry briefly.
  5. Chop tempeh into small cubes and add to onions. Fry as patience permits; I have occasionally gotten them to look crispy.
  6. Add more oil if it’s disappeared.
  7. Add rice and fry a few minutes until transparent.
  8. Optionally, add wine and fry away.
  9. Now begins the eternal night of the risotto. Add a small amount of broth to the rice and cook it off. Keep doing this until the rice is done. This will take about half an hour; you should add your extras in time for them to get enough cooking or warming up on this schedule.
  10. If you run low on broth and the rice is still too hard, add more broth or water to the broth pot. Chicken stock can take some dilution; vegetable stock should probably be supplemented with more vegetable stock, which is simple to do with the powdered stuff or concentrate.
  11. Leave a little broth in the rice at the end to keep it fairly loose. (If you have leftover broth, save it for reheating any leftover risotto.)

Extra Extras

  • A handful of raisins, along with turmeric, dill, basil, mustard seed, assafroa (safflower), and red wine.
  • Diced chicken thighs.
  • 2–3 c. short, fat sprouts of Japanese knotweed, cut into ¼ inch pieces:

knotweed harvest