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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mushroom Risotto.. I know, right?

I love Jamie Oliver. I think he is great, and has really done a lot as of late to get people to eat better; specifically kids. This morning, I was dismayed to read that LAUSD (probably the biggest school disrict in the country) has decided to not let him work with them and make a second season of Food Revolution. (Link here) Having worked in that district for three years, I can safely say that they probably would have benefitted from his help. (Um... nachos every day for months, while the cafeteria was repaired? While that was a semi-temporary situation, if I'd still been teaching there then, I think I would have been hosting lunch out of my classroom.) Anyway, I digress.
What I was really going to tell you about is mushrooms. I have hated mushrooms most of my life. I hated them as a kid. (I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that when I was about two, we were camping and my grandma gave me some crackers and I was eating them outside. I happened to be standing near some mushrooms, and the adults thought I was eating them. I was rushed to the hospital to get my stomach pumped. Totally coincedental.)

I only started to tolerate mushrooms a few years ago when someone made this most excellent mushroom/wild rice/white wine soup at my job, and now I re-create it every fall without fail. Yesterday I upped my game, and made a mushroom risotto! It was, to say the least, AMAZING. I adapted it from the Risotto Bianco in Jamie's Italy, and here's what I did....

Mushroom Risotto:

2 cups arborio rice (was SO excited to see this at TJ's for under $2.50. Seriously!)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a dollop of butter
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. lentils
1 cup mushrooms, diced very small (that's how I can eat them!)
4-5 c. vegetable broth
2 glasses of dry white wine (I assumed that 1 glass=6 oz, so I did 1 1/2 c. total)
4 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, to garnish

(I ended up not using the artichokes, but I had been totally thinking about it!)

Heat up your broth in another pan or the microwave. If you are a cheater like me, use the "near boiling water" faucet from your sink. That's how I save dishes, people!

Heat your pan with the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic, onions, celery, mushrooms, and pepper, and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the rice and let it fry for just a minute or two. Then add the wine. Jamie says, "It will smell fantastic!" and he's not wrong.

Add the lentils, and a ladle or two of the broth. The key to risotto is near constant watching and stirring. This watched dish will boil! Add more broth as it gets absorbed, but NOT ALL AT ONCE! The key is to add it gradually. It takes 15-20 minutes (unless you make the mistake I did when I made this the first time; I used wild rice, and it took over an hour.) for all of the broth to get absorbed. Taste the rice and lentils to see if they are done. The lentils will stay slightly firm, so if you don't like that, you might want to cook them seperately or leave them out.

When it gets like this, remove it from heat and add the cheese. Stir it around and add some more. Mmmm...

Top with some fresh basil, and enjoy!

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