Notso Buco with Saffron Rosemary Risotto

Notso Buco
This started with a teeny, tiny, adorable glass bottle filled with saffron threads. I had never cooked with saffron before, but was always curious about it. The bottle was only $4, cheap enough for an impulse purchase. Into my basket it went.

I decided to make risotto again, specifically Risotto alla milanese, or saffron risotto. After the risotto I made a few days ago, I was dying to try a baked version. When you bake risotto, you don’t need to slave over it, stirring until your arms fall off. You pop it in the oven after a few minutes of preparation, let it bake for 25 minutes, and presto. It sounded too good to be true. I had to try it.

While reseraching saffron risotto, I found that osso buco (also ossobucco) is its traditional accompaniment. I realized I had some tempeh in the fridge and decided to have a go at “notso buco.” Considering the fact that I didn’t have this idea until the risotto was almost halfway done cooking, I think it was a success. Next time I make it, I think I’ll either use thinner slices of tempeh, or marinate them first, so that the inside tastes just as good as the outside. The sauce was rich enough, though, so it really wasn’t a problem.

I was really skeptical about the baked risotto. It called for only half of the liquid I used previously, and two thirds less time. I was expecting to check it at 25 minutes and find it bone dry and undercooked. Boy was I wrong! It was perfectly cooked, fluffy, moist, golden, and fragrant. The texture wasn’t as creamy as the stove-top version, but delightful in its own way, more like a pilaf. I definitely recommend this version, especially if you’re short on time.

Recipes below the jump!

Rosemary Saffron Risotto (inspired by a Martha Stewart Recipe)
Serves four

2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
1 Cup Arborio Rice
1/8 tsp Saffron Threads, crushed
1/2 Cup White Wine (dry)
2 Cups Vegetable Stock (or use 1 veg. bullion cube and omit salt)
1 Tbs Fresh Rosemary, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
1 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbs Earth Balance, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a medium oven-proof saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring until golden brown. Add rice, and stir until grains are shiny and well coated with oil, about 2 minutes more. Add saffron and wine, and continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add stock, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cover saucepan; transfer to oven. Bake until all of the stock is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the cover from saucepan. Dot the top of the rice with earth balance, arrange sage over the rice, and bake until earth balance is melted, about 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Notso Buco
Serves two

1 Block of Tempeh
1 Carrot, slice into thin coins
4 Oz Cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 Heaping Tbs Tomato Paste
1 Cup White Wine
1/3 Cup Water and Soy Sauce Mixture, 1:1 ratio
2 Tbs Earth Balance

Slice the tempeh in half, making two smaller squares. Trim each square into a circular shape. No cut each circle in half to make two thinner circles (this is the step I wish I did!). Rub each piece of tempeh in oil, then coat with flour.

Heat a dutch oven or deep, heavy cast-iron skillet with some olive oil. Sear both sides of the tempeh, until nicely browned. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and carrots and saute until beginning to soften. Add tomato paste and stir well. Add tempeh back to pan.

Add wine and cook on high until reduced by half. Add soy sauce/water mixture and boil until a thick sauce forms. When sauce is ready, turn down heat and add earth balance. Stir until incorporated. Serve.


  1. Haley

    Totally delicious! I made this for my husband, two kids, and omni parents and they all loved it. It is very rich and filling. The risotto turned out lovely and moist. Thanks for some great meal ideas.

  2. Lauren

    I just made this after work tonight… wanted something quick. However, I wasn’t really hungry but I thought I might be by the time it was done. I wasn’t; so I didn’t really eat this, but my dad (omni)really really liked it. He was especially impressed with the sauce.

  3. Rose

    This was so good! The sauce for the Notso Buco was a wee bit too salty, but other than that, perfection.

  4. Ylimuuli Mukkelis


    brilliant blog, thank you for the inspiration! I just bought tempeh the first time ever today and I when I found this I so heard my calling. Gonna do Notso Buco later this week and just wanted to ask, whether earth balance is some sort of a “flour” that brings the sauce together, leaving it not so liquidy? Am I making myself clear at all :-D Anyway, I hope you understand my questions.

    Also the mushrooms you are using sound unfamiliar, which more common mushrooms would you recommend when these aren’t available? Champignons, shitakes, chantarelles… ? That’s about it ;-)

    Lots of greetings from Finland,
    keep up the impressive work!

    Meri aka Ylimuuli Mukkelis

  5. Lolo

    Hi Ylimuuli!

    Earth balance is a vegan butter replacement. The sauce reduces considerably while cooking, so you shouldn’t need a thickener. If you do, a little bit of flour will work!

    The mushrooms I used are baby portobellos – but nearly any mushroom would work. Classic white button mushrooms, aka champignons, will work just fine. Feel free to use whatever mushroom available that looks good, though shitakes might be too strong for this particular dish. Good luck!

  6. Ylimuuli Mukkelis


    thanks for the quick reply! Oh well it’s butter then :-) That I’ve got, as a vegan version even tho I’m just avoiding red meat and dairy and not really a vegan or even vegetarian then. And I did wonder why would you need a specific thing for thickening since flour are quite okay for vegans as well.

    Portobellos sound a lot more common, that I might find as well! But if I don’t, I’ll opt for the buttons.

    I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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  8. Ylimuuli Mukkelis

    Now it’s done and it was good, not so beautiful as yours and lacking the fresh rosemary, but it was a satisfying first ever cooking date with tempeh. Thank you for your help, I might need some more since I’m already scanning the rest of your recipies… ;-)

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  11. harriet

    WOW! Thank you soo much for this recipe! Delicious and tastes like I slaved for hours! Yummy sauce and delicious tempeh. I used coconut oil to fry the tempeh and then added a little olive oil before I put in mushrooms and carrots. Bravo!

  12. Jenny

    Thanks for the hearty, filling and delicious recipe! I whipped it up in no time a couple days ago for my boyfriend and I. Really delicious. I was fresh out of carrots and mushrooms so I subbed a zucchini with good results. The risotto smells heavenly too!

  13. Pingback: Notso Buco and Risotto « Peaceful Vegan Cooking

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