Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lazy Risotto ! by A

The other night I came home from a long day and was craving risotto. I don't know why, but lately I have noticed that risotto has usurped the title of "best comfort food" from my old placeholder, mac and cheese. I crave that creamy rice like all the time. I made a joke to Sarah one time about wanting to go home and curl up in bed with a nice bowl of risotto. Doesn't that sound nice?

The problem is, risotto always seems time consuming or a bit intimidating, two things which comfort foods should not be. But this dish I ended up concocting is pretty fast and easy. It began with a google search for "arborio rice recipes" which lead me to this recipe for Parmesan Black Pepper Arborio Rice Pilaf. This dish was attractive because it promised risotto-like results without risotto-like preparation. But I wanted to include some vegetables, and perhaps do something with the piece of goat cheese that was sitting in my fridge, so I turned to google again, and found a Jamie Oliver recipe for Spinach and Goat Cheese risotto via the food blog Cheese Plus Everything. I used bits and pieces of these two recipes and concocted a really tasty dinner. Here's what I did:

(I didn't put amounts for most of these, because it's really up to you....feel it out.)

arborio rice (I used a half cup of rice with one cup of liquid for one large portion - make sure to adjust proportions if making a larger serving....you already know that.)
some garlic
some onion (I used a red onion, any kind is fine.)
olive oil
unsalted butter
fresh or dried mushrooms (optional)
mushroom/vegetable/chicken broth (BUT broth is only needed if you are NOT using dried mushrooms. You'll see why.)
goat cheese
Parmesan cheese
fresh lemon juice (optional)

If using dried mushrooms, rinse well in water and then place in large bowl with a good amount of hot water to rehydrate. Set aside. Then chop up your garlic and onion. Heat a mix of butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion+ HALF of the garlic (and a good amount of salt and pepper) and saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice; stir to coat for about one minute.

IF using dried mushrooms, now is the time to strain 1 cup (or whichever amount, depending on how many portions you're making) of the water. The water will now be fragrant and mushroom-flavored ! (Keep soaking the mushrooms in more water if they are not hydrated fully yet.) Add broth to the pot. (If using other stock (pre-made mushroom/chicken/vegetable) just measure out the correct amount and add it.) Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until stock is absorbed and rice is creamy and soft with a little "chew" at the center, about 12 minutes. (Feel free to add more broth as the rice cooks to make it more creamy and risotto-ish.)

While you wait for the rice to cook, heat olive oil in a pan and add the rest of the garlic. Add spinach and fresh mushrooms (if using) and saute until cooked.

Once your rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the sauteed vegetables, add more salt and pepper to taste, and a nice grating of Parmesan cheese. (If using dried mushrooms, make sure they are hydrated, and chop + add to mixture now as well.)

Stir in goat cheese (start with a little, add more to taste) until it melts and combines with rice mixture. Serve hot in a big bowl with some more Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice on top.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and curl up in bed with it!

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