Mushroom Risotto

Simple and delicious mushroom risotto This dish was indeed inspired my trip to Italy, and is perfect for a meatless Monday dish.  Making risotto has been on my short list for years, and there's no time like winter for such a heavy, warming dish.  (Yes, it's still winter!)  I spiked it with a variety of my favorite mushrooms that I purchased in bulk---cremini, oyster, chanterelle, and even some baby portabellas.  You can easily toss other things in this---from asparagus to grilled chicken.

Risotto is amazingly simple to make.  The Italian short-grain Arborio rice does all the work for you.  There are only two things a good risotto requires: a whole lot of stirring and a little bit of patience. Plus, the flavor is all in the stock you use.  Here's the perfect occasion to defrost that homemade turkey stock you have leftover from your last roasted bird or vegetable stock making adventure.  I, however, am guilty of using store-bought stock, and it still came out delicious.

Sauteeing mushrooms for my mushroom risotto

Toasting the rice; preparing mushroom risotto

Step 1: Cook whatever you are spiking your risotto with.  I did mushrooms, so I sauted them in olive oil and butter.

Step 2: Add your onion, garlic, and celery.  Saute them.  Then, add your Arborio rice and stir for about a minute, toasting it (toasting grains brings out a deliciously nutty aroma).

Step 3: Add your stock, slowly, one cup at a time.  Stir constantly!  When the risotto appears to have soaked up the liquid, it's time to add another cup.  This is where the magic happens:  the stirring releases the natural starches in the Arborio rice, making your risotto creamy and velvety.

Step 4: Add your toppings and voila!

Keep stirring!

Mushroom risotto


Mushroom Risotto Recipe

9 cups broth (homemade preferable, or reduced-sodium if store bought) 1 pound mushrooms (I prefer Cremini) 6 fresh thyme sprigs 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided* 1 large onion, diced 2 celery ribs, chopped 1 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain rice (Arborio) 1 cup dry white wine 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (1 teaspoon if using dried thyme) Salt and pepper, to taste

*You may use salted butter if that's what you have on hand.  Unlike baking, it's okay to use salted butter in cooking.  Just be careful when salting your food to taste.

  1.  Bring broth to a simmer in large pot over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to just below a simmer.
  2.  Remove mushroom stems.  Add mushroom stems, thyme sprigs, and half of parsley to broth. Remove leaves from other half of parsley bunch and chop, reserving 1/2 cup of chopped parsley leaves.
  3.  Heat olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a dutch oven (large pot OK) until hot.  Add mushroom caps and saute 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove mushrooms from dutch oven and set aside.
  4.  Add onion and saute 10 minutes, until tender.  Add celery and saute another 5 minutes, until softened.
  5.  Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, about one minute, until fragrant.  Stir in wine and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.
  6.  Add one cup hot broth mixture (discard mushroom stems, and herbs by straining).  Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed.  Repeat with remaining broth (rice will absorb the broth more quickly at the beginning, and more slowly at the end).  Total cooking time for stirring broth is about 30-35 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  7.  Stir in cheese, chopped thyme, chopped 1/2 cup parsley, and remaining two tablespoons butter.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Don't be afraid to season your food.  Add salt until you can taste the different flavors.  The food should not taste "salty" but should be flavorful.

Simple and Delicious Mushroom Risotto

Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash

Healthy and Filling Whole Grain Salad: Wild Rice, Roasted Squash, Microgreens, Seeds, and Nuts I celebrated "Meatless Monday" last night with this hearty, filling salad of black and wild rice, roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, parsley, scallions, pistachios, and a homemade red wine vinaigrette.  I thought about naming this salad "Crazy Salad" since it is Crazy Colorful, Crazy Vibrant, Crazy Delicious, Crazy Filling, and Crazy Healthy.

Delicious and Nutritious: Black and WIld Rice Salad with Roasted Squash and Nuts and Seeds

This salad reminds me of a fancy tabbouleh--especially since I subbed the microgreens with parsley (which worked wonderfully!) I had never cooked black rice before.  The black rice turned the water in the pot a deep aubergine color.  You can substitute the black and wild rice with just about any grain.  The total time to assemble this salad is about an hour--just depends on how long it takes the rice/whole grains to cook, and how long it takes the butternut squash to roast.  Also, I left some of the ingredients unassembled so that they will be super fresh for leftovers.

Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash Recipe, Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups black rice 1/2 cup wild rice medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into pieces 1/2 cup olive oil, divided 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1 cup pomegranate seeds 1 cup parsley 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Roast the squash with 1/4 cup olive oil on a baking sheet.

Cook black rice and wild rice in covered pot on low, with 4-5 cups water. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes.  (Taste to determine when rice is done and be sure to add water if the rice isn't cooked by the time all of water evaporates.) Drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Roast the squash until it is browned and tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.  Let cool.

  1. Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl.  Add black rice, wild rice, squash, scallions, pomegranate seeds, parsley and pistachios.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Cooked Black and wild Rice

Healthy, Easy, and Absolutely Delicious: Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash