Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Tonight's meal of Mushroom Risotto is also a technique dish that can easily be altered to accommodate tastes and pantry supplies. For example, sometimes I use frozen peas instead of spinach. Surprisingly, my oldest (just days away from 4 years old) ate a whole bowl, spinach and all! If you are worried about the lacking meat in this meal, worry not! Protein can be found in unusual places, like the spinach (bringing 2g. per serving here). The Rice itself has nearly 6g. per serving and the stock has 1g. per cup and we have a total of 4 cups in this recipe. Finally, the pine nuts have 4g of protein for 1/4 cup. Not to mention the cheese! So, if you want to make this a vegetarian meal, you can swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock without worrying about adding any protein.

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz Mixed Mushrooms (I use an Exotic Mix with Crimini - a.k.a. Baby Bellas, Shiitake, and Oyster) roughly chopped
1 T Chopped Garlic
1 Small Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 C Arborio Rice
32 oz Chicken Broth
2 C Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 heaping hand fulls of Baby Spinach
1/4 C toasted Pine Nuts
Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese - for topping each serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions, mushrooms, and garlic until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are transparent. Add the rice and one cup of the stock. Stir the rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed then add another cup. Continue to stir the rice and add the liquid one cup at a time until the stock and the water are fully absorbed. This process will take about 30 minutes.

As you stir, the liquid will thicken from the starch being released from the rice. This creates a creamy consistency without the use of any dairy. Don't be tempted to raise the temperature. The idea is to let the rice absorb the liquid, not to let it evaporate. There are better ways to get a facial. While you are adding the liquid, taste it and add the salt and pepper. It is important to add the seasoning before all of the liquid is absorbed. It is hard to add flavor after the rice is done.

If you think the rice is done, taste it. You will know it needs more time if you feel thirsty. It is done when the rice is soft and melts away in your mouth...perfect. Once it is done, add the spinach and stir until it cooks down. Finish it off with the pine nuts, stirring them into the rice and top each serving with a sprinkling of cheese. Serve with warm crusty bread and butter.

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