Monday, 15 June 2009


I often here people speak of risotto, as if it was equivalent to crossing the Sahara or climbing Mt Everest.... the pain, the trouble, the time.  Bollocks...its simple, its elegant, its what I love to make at all times of the year with all kinds of ingredients...Lovely red risotto with beets and green garlic, roast tomato and grilled corn risotto...lets not forget bacon and ricotta risotto for those who don’t find the amazingly rich mushroom risotto fatty enough. Below I have a simple recipe for risotto with a quick trick to allow you to make risotto in advance (yes its possible, no its not a sin, and yes it will be perfect!!!)


2 cups Arborio rice

2 T vegetable oil

1 large leek (white and yellow only, save green for stock) or 1 large onion, finely diced           

4 cloves garlic, fine dice

1pound mushrooms, stems and caps separated and chopped           

4 cups fresh arrugula, washed and dried

2 cups white wine or use mushroom stock below

4 cups mushroom stock (plump some dried mushrooms in 6 cups boiling water with any vegetable scraps such as garlic, leek greens, carrot peelings, etc.after ½ hour, remove the tender mushrooms and strain the stock)

Butter or EVOO

Parmesan cheese, grated

S, P

Fresh herbs



NOTE:  Usually you can find cheap dried mushrooms at most Asian grocery stores, use them to add flavour to your favourite soups, stocks and sauces (even try grinding the dried mushrooms in your coffee grinder for a tasty garnish or seasoning).



  1. In a large sauce pan, heat to medium, and add 2 T vegetable oil.
  2. Add leek (or onion), ½ of garlic, and chopped mushroom stems.
  3. Cook over medium heat till onions are translucent (add touch of water if necessary)
  4. Add rice and toss to coat.
  5. Add white wine to pan and stir often, cooking over medium-to-medium low heat till wine has evaporated.
  6. Add 2 cups mushroom stock (or vegetable stock, or vegetable cube induced water) and again stir often and cook till stock has evaporated.
  7. Taste it cooked...if so then stop now.  Most likely it is soft on outside and hard in the middle.  If you want to use the risotto tomorrow or the next day, then stop here.  You can spread the rice out on a baking tray to cool, then set it in the refrigerator in a sealed container and continue with the next step when you want to have dinner (This is how we avoid spending an hour in the kitchen when friends are coming for dinner!!!)  But if you want to simply continue cooking then here we go...
  8. Okay, we are back to the we can add more of the mushroom stock and continue stirring being careful not to add to much stock, as we do not want soupy risotto.  I like risotto to be a touch “al dente” in other words, with a slight bite to each kernel of rice (not mushy).
  9. Once the consistency of the risotto is where you want it, then we can sauté the rest of the garlic with the mushroom caps and leftover mushrooms from the stock.  This can be done simply in a hot pan, with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  10. In the risotto pan we now want to add a splash of olive oil (or butter), a good handful of Parmesan...fold this in and then taste.
  11. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon (to brighten flavour up if you like) or lemon zest.
  12. Now taste again...the risotto should taste rich, creamy and still have a visible texture of individual kernels of rice that seem to be stuck together simply with their own starchy goodness.
  13. The last step is to toss in the fresh arrugula, making sure to gently fold it into the rice so it wilts slightly, but does not get crushed.  This will give your risotto an extra bit of colour, peppery flavour, added vegetables and a nice crunch.
  14. Plate a nice mound of risotto, add a healthy portion of the sauté of mushrooms, a final sprinkle of Parmesan and fresh herbs...enjoy!!!!




 You can serve this risotto over oven-roasted portabellas and a side of the sauté of mushrooms.  As well you could serve the sauté of mushrooms and arrugula together under the risotto...or maybe add some pesto (see 25 MAY blog  about ramps) to the portabella caps (then roast in 200 degree C, 390 F oven for 15 minutes) and serve along side a garnish of Parmesan and pesto... 

 You are not bound to mushrooms...use the seasonal produce available...courgette and tomato risotto, grilled sweet corn and carmelized onion, roast beet and green garlic, simple parmesan risotto with a poached egg...etc.etc...and leftover risotto...make little risotto cakes stuffed with cheese and one can coat with bread crumbs and bake/fry them and serve with leftover pesto or marinara sauce!!!






  1. Greg, thanks for this - I love risotto and this variation looks yummy. Question - can you do that prep-beforehand trick with other rice for non-risotto dishes? I like brown rice but don't always have an hour to fix dinner (that whole two-kids-two-and-under thing)...

  2. We love risotto, Greg. Some nice ideas here. When we had our Italian exchange student from northern Italy, she made us pumpkin risotto.

  3. Monica...
    The same trick works with other rices, but in other ways...i have recently been reheating just slightly underdone rice in a makeshift steamer...made of a sauce pan with 1 inch water, and rice put in a small strainer, and then cover with a sauce reheats rice and finishes the cooking. At the restaurant we often reheated rice in a pinch...with a touch of water in a sauce pan...but I agree...sometimes brown rice( which is the only rice I eat...we even cook it real slow risotto style with lots of mushrooms as I cant find brown arborio rice) takes too long to fix for a quick meal. Again the key, is to stop the cooking the first time, so the second time you are not over cooking the product ( works the same for cooked pasta as well)...