Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Easy Mushroom Risotto--Honest

I love rice. Always have. I like all kinds of rice, all colors of rice, and any recipe that includes rice. I especially like those recipes that involve tossing the rice into the oven to let it do its thing without me having to set a timer or keep watch. That's why I was thrilled to hear Ina Garten on the Food Channel say that she had found a way to make risotto in the oven.

Now I am partial to risotto. It's thick and creamy and stands up to anything you can think to put in it. But making a good risotto involves standing at the stove, spoon in hand, stirring, stirring, and stirring. It also includes having a pot of some kind of warm liquid on the back burner so that when the rice gets dry, I can add in another ladle or two. And then continue with the endless stirring. For at least 20 minutes. Sometimes 30.

Bah, Humbug.

Patience has never been one of my virtues. Hence, when I saw that Ina's oven risotto turned out perfect, I was sold. I tweeked her recipe to make it vegan and then served it to company. We all declared it a prize winner. And while I used assorted mushrooms as my vegetable of choice, this risotto could be made with all manner of roasted veggies or veggies and faux meat or an assortment of cooked and fresh vegetables so that the dish would be both creamy and crunchy. If you are a rice lover like me, give this recipe a try. I bet you'll be smacking your lips over its taste and tap dancing at its ease of preparation.


1/2 pound of fresh mushrooms of your choice
1 oz. package of dried mushrooms. 
5-6 cups of no-chicken broth
6 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallot (I used sweet onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Saffron, the world's most expensive
spice. A little goes a long way.
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup frozen peas

Reconstitute the dried mushrooms according to package directions.

If your fresh mushrooms are large, slice them; if they are small, leave them whole.

Put the reconstituted and fresh mushrooms into a Dutch oven with the 6 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until the ingredients are lightly wilted but not browned.

To the Dutch oven add all but the frozen peas and 1 cup of the broth.

Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Most of the liquid will be absorbed and the rice will still be a bit too firm. Remove the pot to the stove top to finish cooking.

Add the last cup of broth and give everything a good stir. It will take about 3-5 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed by the rice and the whole mixture to become thick and creamy.

Taste the risotto. If the rice is still too firm, add a bit more broth, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Just before serving, add the peas and continue cooking until the peas are no longer cold. Serve the dish hot. You can sprinkle the dish with vegan Parmesan or minced parsley. I served a side of Caesar salad and garlic toast.

Vegans who don't like to cook are always on the lookout for oven recipes. I'm one of them.

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