Anna Wootton

Impress with Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is one of those impressive dishes. Well, I think it is anyway. Yeah, sure, the name is fancy and Italian, but also it takes a bit of time to make and can taste so rich and flavourful that even though it’s basically fancy-sounding rice and veggies it tastes and sounds like so much more.This, of course, means it’s a great dish to cook up to impress guests – you know, friends who are coming for a dinner party, or those soon-to-be-in-laws, or even that soon-to-be boyfriend. Whoever you’re cooking for, it’s a good option and meat eaters often fail to even notice that it’s vegetarian.

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It’s also highly customizable – so you can basically throw in whatever veggies your guests like. Case in point: I made the risotto pictured in this recipe for my mom, sister and me. My mom and sister hate mushrooms, so I roasted a red pepper and diced it up, adding it to theirs at the very end, when I added mushrooms to mine.

However, if you like mushrooms, they work so well with risotto due to their meaty, earthy texture and taste, that there really is no other option! And the Caymanian in me can’t have rice without beans or peas so the peas are, of course, included also.

Other great risotto vegetable combinations include:

– asparagus and peas
– artichoke, mushroom and asparagus
– butternut squash (either pureed into the sauce or cubed roasted butternut squash a la Kate at A Healthy Passion)

So without further ado, check out the recipe below and let me know how impressed your tastebuds are :).

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INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

*This is a really easy recipe to make vegan – just omit the cheese or use a vegan substitute. Also, as it only uses rice, it is already gluten-free.

4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (any type)
2 small shallots, diced
1 cup Arborio rice (if you can’t find Arborio use some kind of short-grain rice, but Arborio is really the ‘proper’ risotto rice!)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (plus sprigs for garnish if desired)
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Asiago this time – whichever you prefer)

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1. In a saucepan keep the vegetable stock at a simmer.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a saute pan over a medium-high heat and, when heated, add the mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft, then transfer them to a bowl. Keep any liquid that was produced; just pour it into the bowl also.

3. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the saute pan and heat. Add shallots and cook until soft. Then add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes, allowing the rice to toast and coat with oil, maybe turning slightly golden.

4. Add the wine and stir until absorbed.

5. Now add the broth by half-cup increments to the rice, waiting for it to be fully absorbed before adding another half-cup. This process will take approximately 15-20 minutes as this is what cooks the rice. Stir continuously.

6. Add the peas during the last few minutes of cooking the rice, to allow them to defrost and heat.

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7. Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms, salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle parsley in and stir.

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8. Serve with a parsley sprig if you like. Refrigerate leftovers immediately in tupperware containers (to avoid the rice drying out too much). I wouldn’t recommend freezing this; and use it within 1-2 days of cooking. Enjoy!

Nutritional info given per serving if serving 4:

Nutritional information from