Grilled Mushroom, Celery and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

Risotto has got to be one of my favourite comfort foods, creamy, rich and full of flavour. However, the same creamy-richness can turn to stodgy for certain palates. This recipe adds some of the celery at the mid-point, to retain its crunch and light flavour, offering a respite from the decadent taste of the rice. We’ve also mixed up the mushrooms: by reserving most of them and grilling them first, you get a wonderful, strong flavour out of the mushrooms.

We served this at a large family dinner for non-vegans, to say it went down well would be an understatement.

Serve with a side salad with plenty of crisp veggies and a light dressing, such as our bruschetta salad. This is a great meal to make on the weekend and keeps well, so could easily be made ahead.


Grilled Mushroom, Celery and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 7 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons of powdered chicken stock (Vegan, MSG-free)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 6 large brown field mushrooms, finely chop 1
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ tablespoon high smoke point oil
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons high smoke point oil
  • 1 leek, halved washed and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped, place half aside
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large bunch thyme
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons savoury yeast flakes



Heat stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer. Add bay leaves to the stock if using.

Grilled mushrooms

Mix the juice of half a lemon, ½ tablespoon high smoke point oil and ½ a teaspoon of dried thyme together. Cover five (5) of the mushroom with the marinade well and grill or barbeque the mushrooms for three minutes on each side. Roughly chop and cover in a bowl to set aside.


Add 2 tablespoons high-smoke point oil to the pan, ensuring that the surface is well-oiled. Add chopped mushroom, leek, garlic and celery. Remove the thyme leaves from the stem by roughly sliding your fingers along the stem while pinching. Add the leaves to the vegetable pan and the stem to the stock.

Cook vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 2 cups of Arborio rice to the vegetables, stirring well. Cook for around three minutes.

Add 1 cup of dry white wine and stir well. Once the wine has been absorbed, add one ladle of stock. Stir in well until it has been adsorbed. Continue this process until you have added around half the stock. This should be around the 15-20 minute mark.

Add in grilled mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and leftover celery. Continue to ladle in stock, stirring well for another 15 minutes or until you have used almost all of the stock. Taste-test your risotto: if the crunch has almost completely gone out of the rice you’re done; if the rice is crunchy, continue to add the remaining stock, stirring well.

Mix in 1 ½ tablespoons of savoury yeast flakes and salt/pepper to taste.


‘Bruschetta’ Salad

I made a fantastic risotto the other week for our extended family. While risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, other family members have often commented that it is too rich and stodgy to eat by itself. To offset these characteristics, I wanted a crisp and tarty salad. I took the idea of finely diced vegetables, mixed with basil and a simple dressing to make a ‘bruschetta’ salad.

'Bruschetta' Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes*
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled
  • ½ medium red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Salt/pepper to taste

* I prefer to make this with a mixture of field and cherry tomatoes.

TLDR instructions
Mix dressing ingredients and place in a non-reactive bowl. Finely chop all vegetables and place in the same bowl. Roughly tear basil leaves by hand and add to salad. Mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Leave salad to ‘stew’ for 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

Detailed instructions


Prepare the dressing by pouring the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a non-reactive bowl. You will now add all the ingredients to this bowl; do not keep the dressing and the salad separate.


Wash all your ingredients. I find it best to halve celery length-wise to make sure you get the dirt out of the inside curve.
Finely chop the tomatoes until you have around one cup. Peel the cucumbers, and quarter them length-wise. If the cucumber is particularly fat, halve again length wise. Placing the cucumber lengths together, chop into small bits. Follow a similar method for the celery. Finely dice the capsicum. Add all chopped ingredients to the salad bowl.
Remove basil leaves from the stems. Roughly tear them by hand and add them to the salad bowl. Mix all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to leave the salad to stew in the acidic juice for at least 30 minutes, to allow the basil flavour time to ‘spread’.
Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves.