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Risotto, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

March 20, 2011

Risotto is certainly no newcomer to the table, but in case its charms and wonders have somehow slipped under your culinary radar, let me clue you in.  Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with Arborio rice that is cooked in a broth until the starches break down and it becomes rich and creamy.  Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes out there, and once you get the hang of the basic cooking process, the possibilities are virtually endless.

The queue of ingredients, waiting to go into the pot.

A few notes before you embark on your risotto journey:

First of all, don’t make risotto if you’re hungry.  This advice may sound counter-intuitive, but keep in mind, it takes almost an hour to make – if you’re starving you’ll wind up playing “eat the pantry” and ruining your dinner before it’s even on the table.  Make it when you’re almost hungry so it’s ready when you are.

Secondly, don’t plan on doing anything else while your risotto is cooking.  You really have to nurture it (i.e. watch it like a hawk and stir it constantly).  It demands your undivided attention.

Lastly, don’t let these points intimidate you.  If you’ve got the time and really have a taste for something special (or someone to impress), give it a try!  It can be done vegan or vegetarian (as shown below), or beefed up with meat stocks or seafood.  Either way, it’s a very worthwhile dish to have in your repertoire.

Coating the rice in oil. Nice action shot! (Photos by Edward B.)

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (for vegan) or butter (for vegetarian)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used some leftover Pinot Grigio I had in the fridge – doesn’t need to be fancy)
  • 3 ½+ cups vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock, as needed (could also use mushroom broth if you can find it in your grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, any variety
  • 1 ½ cups chopped asparagus, parboiled
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan (optional)

In a large, shallow pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil/butter for 2-3 minutes.  Add rice and cook 2-3 minutes, letting the fat coat each grain.  Add wine all at once, stirring to allow rice to absorb wine.  Once wine is almost completely absorbed, add broth ½ at a time, stirring continually to incorporate liquid.  Add mushrooms halfway through, cooking with rice in broth.  Cook until rice is just barely al dente and risotto is thick and creamy.  Add asparagus.  Finish with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Adding the asparagus to the mix. Mmm...so green.

~Josie

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