Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mushroom & Leek Risotto

I am in love with this new recipe I made on Friday night by combining and adapting two different recipes. It's terrific! So filling, too.

Six things that surprised me about this risotto:

1) It tastes like it was made with chicken stock, even though it's totally vegetarian
2) It tastes like it's made with heavy cream, even though there's no milk in it at all (the only dairy is cheese, and that's optional). It really tastes like there's massive amounts of milk and cheese, but there's not.
3) It is really good cold! I ate it for breakfast this morning and it was wonderful.
4) I realized while cooking and eating it that it could easily be made without the cheese and would be almost as good, so with a few changes (noted in the ingredient list) it could be a great dish for vegans, dairy-allergic folks and anyone who needs a pareve dish.
5) It doesn't need to be a side dish - It makes a great main dish, too! We had it as the main part of our meal.
6) Making the rice itself was quick. It took no more than 20 or 25 minutes. I had imagined it would take forever, but it didn't.

Some tips: I call for you to saute the mushrooms and leeks in a separate pan but if you want you can saute them in the pot you'll be making the risotto in, and just remove them and set them aside in a bowl while you saute the onion and make the rice. This will save you a dirty pot, but it'll create a dirty bowl... Your choice!

Use the most flavorful vegetable stock you can get your hands on. I used Imagine Foods Vegetable Cooking Stock because it's richer than the regular boxed vegetable stock. You could also use homemade vegetable stock (if you don't have your own recipe, try my VictoriousVegetable Stock). For white wine, I used Kedem White Cooking Wine since it's so much cheaper than buying a bottle of real white wine. But skip that shaker of dried-up parmesan cheese! Stick to the real shredded stuff, or just do without.


[Gluten-Free / Vegetarian / Vegan & Dairy-Free Option ]

4 Tbsp butter or dairy-free margarine
1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced (only white & light green sections)
1 lbs crimini ("baby bella") mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, diced finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups rich vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
Optional: 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan (plus additional to garnish)

In a saute pan, melt butter (or margarine if you want it to be dairy-free) over medium heat. Add leeks, and saute until they begin to become tender. Add mushrooms. Continue to sautee until both mushrooms and leeks are tender and leeks begin to brown just slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small pot or saucepan, combine vegetable stock, water and white wine and cook until they simmer. Cover and keep over low heat so the mixture stays hot.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stir in the arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to make sure the rice becomes coated in the oil. Stir in the rice and cook 1 minute, coating rice with the oil.

Add one cup of the hot stock-wine-water mixture and allow to simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed (there will still be some visible but when you stir it you should see that it's very thick and most has been absorbed by the rice). Stir very frequently to avoid sticking.

Add the rest of the liquid, a cup at a time, waiting each time until the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

Taste regularly to gauge doneness, as the risotto should have a creamy consistency but each grain of rice should remain a bit chewy at the center. The rice grains should not themselves be mushy. If the last of the liquid's been absorbed and the rice is still undercooked you may add additional hot water, stock or wine. Stir in the cheese and the mushroom-leek mixture, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with additional shredded cheese if desired.