Despite the 80 degree weather we experienced here in Chicago yesterday, it IS fall here in the midwest, and thus time to move on to heartier fare. Josh and I were felt like laying low Friday night and decided to cook an old standby and favorite for dinner - Giada DeLaurentiis' Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas from her "Everyday Italian" cookbook. Like I said, we've made this a couple of times before - but each time with incremental improvement. Friday was no exception - I think we may be reaching perfection with this dish!
Risotto is such a perfect base for a good meal because it's so versatile. The varieties of risotto you could concoct are endless. A good mushroom risotto like this one isn't the most original of recipes (the most unique I've had is a strawberry risotto, that was simultaneously sweet and savory - who knew strawberries could taste so great with some hearty, salty parmesan?), it's definitely one of the most comforting. I love how risotto becomes all creamy on it's own - no dairy necessary - as it releases it's starches and absorbs the broth. This version has a particularly flavorful broth, a result of steeping the dried porcini mushrooms in it first, and the brown-ness of the the mushrooms is offset by the vibrant peas added in the last few minutes.
People tend to think risotto is really difficult, but it's actually not. It does require attention, however, as you add the broth, you need to be constantly stirring. Other than that though, you can't mess this up. Pair it with a mixed green salad and some crusty bread, and you've got a meal.
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas (serves two main course servings)
3 C. low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 C. arborio rice
1 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 C. onion, finely chopped
5 oz. white mushrooms (or any kind, really), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 C. white wine
1/4 C. frozen peas, thawed
1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese
S&P, to taste
Bring broth to a simmer and add porcini mushrooms. Cover and let steep 5 minutes over a low heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add olive oil. Saute the onions about 8 minutes, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the broth and chop. Add porcini mushrooms to the saucepan and let cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and let toast 1 minute, then add the wine and cook for 2 minutes until evaporated. Add 1/2 C. of broth, and stir until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Do this until the broth is gone, about 20 minutes total.
Stir in the peas. Mix in the parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.