Alisa Fleming ~ Risotto without dairy, is that possible? Actually, it’s very possible, and very delicious. But, what about from a box? Well, honestly, I don’t think you can mimic the creamy, yet clean taste of a risotto using a quick mix, dairy-free or not. The primary allure of risotto comes from the process by which it is cooked … small grains of Arborio rice are sautéed while slowing adding in a liquid, and finishing it with a creamy touch. “Instant” just doesn’t cut it if you are craving authentic.
That said, I don’t always have the energy for slow cooking, and thus like to keep a few meal-making convenience foods on hand like jarred marinara and brown rice mixes. I typically only purchase boxed brown rice products from Lundberg (like their “couscous”), and decided to give their two dairy-free risotto products (made with arborio rice and brown rice flour) a trial when they were on sale. They actually have (at last count) eight brown rice risotto products, but only the Florentine (mushroom & spinach) is dairy-free and vegan, though all are gluten-free …
My opinion remains unwavering, instant does not equal risotto, however, Lundberg Risottos are tasty and unique side dishes in their own right. I wouldn’t describe the Florentine as risotto, but rather as thick, rich, and hearty rice side dishes. They do have somewhat of a creamy component, but it is a bit rustic and heavier than classic risotto.
So you may have noticed that I’ve been using words like “hearty” and “filling” a lot in describing this product. The packaging says it makes four servings, and it does indeed make four full servings. Frequently I find that the four-serving packages of most products really only feed two people, but I challenge two of you (who don’t have enormous “I climb trees for a living” appetites) to devour this entire box in one meal. You get what you pay for. I like this, because the risotto itself makes for great leftovers.
The flavors of each variety are rich, and the seasoning is plentiful, but it isn’t necessarily evident upon taste that one is much different from the other. I decided to heighten each a bit, by adding more sun-dried tomatoes to the Tuscan and some spinach and mushrooms to the Florentine – this took both to the next level flavor-wise and added a nice element of “fresh” with little fuss (particularly if you use bagged baby spinach and pre-sliced mushrooms!).
Overall, I like these risotto mixes and found them to be a great base for using up leftovers and making a complete meal. Roasted chicken, steamed vegetables, whatever you have on hand, stir them in for a filling dinner bowl.
The Facts on Lundberg Risotto
Certifications: Lundberg Risotto is Certified Kosher, Certified Organic, and Non-GMO Verified.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, the puddings are Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Soy-Free, and Wheat-Free. See the packaging for allergen and manufacturing “may contain” labeling, and contact the manufacturer when severe food allergies are of concern.
For More Product Information: Visit the Lundberg Family Farm website at www.lundberg.com.
This is a third party review by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of the best-selling book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications and a recipe creator for the natural food industry with an emphasis on dairy-free living and other special diets.