When you think of Italian food, you generally think basil, tomato, and olive oil. In Northern Italy, rice and cream are staples where the farming of cows are prominent. For some, many restaurants are closed, but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a special night to yourself or with a loved one.

Risotto is a North Italian primo (first course) meal that includes cheese, cream, rice, and wine. This time around, how about you enjoy the same delicious meal, without dairy or animal products? With dairy-free alternatives, you can still enjoy this creamy, sharp yep supple dish.

In this dish, we switch out parmesan with nutritional yeast, heavy cream with a plant-based, Japanese inspired cream, arborio rice (short-grain rice) with barley and add a topping of a delicious mushroom medley. In many cultures, rice is washed before cooked, however when making risotto, we want all of the amylopectin starch we can get. Make sure not to rinse your grain this time around! This starch is what helps us achieve a creamy texture. Because barley does not contain as much starch as arborio, the luxurious plant-based cream alternative will help bring this dish together.
Eat this heart-filling dish, anytime of the year!

Vegan Miso Barley Risotto
Image from Unsplash


Risotto Base

¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Barley
4–5 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup of white wine
½ medium sweet onion
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or your favorite vegan butter
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Vegan Heavy Cream

⅓ cup vegan sour cream
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
2 small garlic cloves
2 teaspoons white miso
½ lemon, juiced

Mushroom Medley

1 cup wild mushroom mix (torn apart, could use oyster mushroom or trumpet mushroom)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
½ cup red chard, sliced and de-stemmed
1 teaspoon of onion granules
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika powder
1 tablespoon of tamari (see note)

Fresh parsley leaves, for serving


  • Mince your sweet onions. In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse the barley for a couple of seconds. Allow the vegetable broth in a medium pot to come to a simmer and let sit.
  • Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the grapeseed oil to the heated pan and add minced onions and salt. Cook until the onions start to sweat or become translucent and tender; this could be for about 6 minutes. Add the white wine, cook, until the taste of alcohol evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add in the barley, stirring to coat well, then add a few ladles of the hot broth.
  • Reduce the large pan to medium-low. Cook the barley, occasionally stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a few more ladles of the broth and continue in this technique until the risotto is cooked, 45 minutes.
  • While the risotto cooks, prep the heavy cream and mushroom. Combine the vegan sour cream with the nutritional yeast, minced garlic, miso, and lemon juice; set aside.
  • Heat a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the grapeseed oil followed by the mushroom, sliced chard seasoning, and tamari. Make sure to coat the mushrooms and chard well and resist the urge to stir. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to rest while the risotto continues to cook.

Once the barley is tender and most liquid has been absorbed, stir in the heavy cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Top with the cooked mushroom + chard and fresh parsley.

Note: Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, if you do not have any gluten allergies, you can use light soy sauce as a replacement.

Recipe & article by Chef Adwoa Kittoe  as seen in Notionette: The Love Issue