Simple and Sublime Mushroom Risotto
Risotto, the famous cooked rice dish from Northern Italy, is labor intensive, but well worth the effort! Arborio rice is the variety most commonly used in this dish; it is a short-grained rice that is very high in starch. When toasted and simmered with an aromatic liquid, the rice becomes creamy, thick and rich. Cozy, warming and full of deep flavor, mushroom risotto is the perfect meal for a cold winter night.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- Reconstituted dried mushrooms (from Aromatic Mushroom Broth), chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large leek
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- 1 batch (5 cups) Aromatic Mushroom Broth or your favorite vegetable broth
- Fresh thyme, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional topping: Grated Parmesan cheese (or dairy-free cheese)
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the sliced cremini and shiitake mushrooms to the pan in an even layer—do not stir! Allow the mushrooms to sizzle and begin to release their liquid. After 3 minutes, gently stir the mushrooms, adding the reconstituted dried mushrooms and dried thyme to the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to slowly sauté the mushrooms until they have cooked down and are very soft, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon sea salt to the mixture, stir again and remove mushrooms to a bowl.
- While the mushrooms are sautéing, prepare the leek for the risotto. Remove the root end and the dark green end from the leek. Cut the leek into quarters lengthwise and then slice into ¼-inch pieces. Wash the pieces under cool water in a colander to remove all of the residual sand and dirt that gets stuck in the leek. Drain well. Mince the garlic and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add the chopped leeks and stir frequently to prevent burning. Lower the heat and sauté for 5 minutes, until starting to soften and turn translucent. Add the minced garlic to the pan and continue to sauté for another minute or so. Pour the Arborio rice over the top of the leek-garlic mixture, return the heat to high and stir constantly to brown the rice.
- Once the rice has browned and smells toasted, lower the heat to low and begin to add the warm Aromatic Mushroom Broth to the pan, ½ cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly to incorporate the broth into the mixture. Once the broth has been completely absorbed by the rice, add another ½ cup and stir. Continue to add broth and stir until the rice is tender. Taste the rice for doneness—it should be al dente (not mushy, but with a bit of a bite). Gently fold the bowl of sautéed mushrooms into the rice, cover the pan and remove from the heat.
- Allow the pan to rest and let the steam continue to cook the rice for 5 minutes. Taste the risotto, adjusting seasoning as needed. Add the optional cheese on top, if using. Sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves on top, if desired, prior to serving.
- Leftovers keep well, in a sealed container, for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
- If using a variety of rice other than Arborio, cooking time and liquid needed may need to be altered.