My daughter brought vegan parmesan from the big city (though easy enough to get online) and so a great chance to cook a dish from the old days. The ‘parmesan’ is made from coconut oil principally, so we weren’t at all sure how the risotto would turn out. It was delicious: creamy texture and ‘cheesy’. The brand of this one is Parveggio.

It takes about 30 minutes to make from getting out the chopping board. Of course you could substitute other seasonal veg, asparagus being a classic, squash in autumn also lovely. Likewise, with herbs, tarragon can be great. In this version, the sweetness of peas accompanies the bitterness of zucchini well. Traditionally a stock and a glass of Veneto wine is added. I’m not a fan of bouillon which is very salty (or wine) so just use water plus some yeast flakes and control the salt level myself.

Ingredients (for 3 -4)

  • 200g risotto rice arborio, carnaroli
  • 2 inner sticks of celery organic ideally, gets a lot of pesticides otherwise
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 heaped teaspoon dried thyme or a similar fresh amount
  • a desert spoon dried yeast flakes
  • a kettle of boiled water
  • a good handful of fresh or frozen peas
  • 100g vegan parmesan
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. gently fry off the celery and courgette with the thyme,  then add the rice, stirring til it is coated and becomes whiter
  2. add enough boiled water to cover the rice, stir and keep topping up the water as the rice swells and cooks
  3. towards the end, add in the peas
  4. when the grains are al dente (slightly resist when you bite), add in probably a good pinch of salt (depending whether you’ve used bouillon), about 15 turns of the pepper grinder, the yeast flakes, stir, and then 80g of the parmesan
  5. let it sit for 5 minutes with the lid on for full plumpness and taste – if you can! – and serve with a scattering of remaining parmesan and a mixed salad.

Buon appetito!