Mushroom Risotto with Prosecco and Pine Nuts

Mushroom Risotto.jpg

This recipe is an old blog favourite that a dear reader messaged me about when they noticed it missing on my new and (soon to be) improved squarespace site. If you haven't heard me complaining about it already, I lost everything in the transfer, this recipe included. Luckily, I had an old backup saved and in there, a copy of this recipe - albeit a very heavily coded one - so I promised dear reader I would pop it back on the blog asap. 

But the photo! My lawd, the photo. Aside from the fact that I shot it with a big blank space with which to fill with my handwritten recipe headers of the past, it was just too shocking for me to feel ok with loading it on here. Nothing wrong with a re-shoot though, especially when it means being reminded of how utterly delicious an old recipe is. When I shared a behind-the-scenes pic on my instagram stories, another reader messaged me to say they had forgotten about this recipe and that it had gotten them through numerous Berlin winters. Pretty cool considering I didn't think anyone even looked at this little blog of mine.

The recipe below is ever so slightly different from the original version. I've added spinach, which I can't believe I never did in the first place, and I've used veggie stock instead of lovage, which I was having a serious love affair with when I first created this recipe but is not as easy to find in other parts of the world as it is in Germany. For a dish that relies so heavily on stock, it's worth buying the best quality stock you can afford. It's also worth mentioning that in Berlin, where I was living when I developed this recipe, you can find a brown version of every kind of rice, including arborio. In Australia, I am yet to find arborio rice that isn't white. I don't buy white rice because I just don't feel satisfied after eating it, so I made the version in this picture with short grain brown rice. Purists will argue that I cannot claim that this to be a risotto because the starch content of the two types of rice is not the same, but this risotto is so damn tasty and filling, I actually don't care what the purists have to say :) :) :)

As I say in my original intro, I used to think that without cheese, Risotto just wouldn't taste the same, but the mushrooms and pine nuts lend so much flavour to this dish that you truly won't miss the cheese at all. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Fills 3-4 people depending on hunger levels. If feeding 4 very hungry people, serve with some bread and a side salad.

Olive oil for cooking
3 shallots or 2 small brown onions
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups (390g) brown arborio rice
1/2 C (125ml) prosecco
1 litre veggie stock
500-800g assorted mushrooms
2 large handfuls spinach
large handful toasted pine nuts
large handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus additional leaves to garnish
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Takes approximately 1 hour.

Clean the mushrooms:
- Clean mushrooms either by wiping any excess dirt off with a damp tea towel or immersing them in a sink or tub of water for a few minutes, rubbing any excess dirt off with your fingers, and then drain and rinse in a colander. There are varying opinions about wetting mushrooms but I clean mine like this and in risotto, they are absolutely fine.

Make the risotto:
- Lightly coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place on a medium-high heat. Add finely chopped shallots/onions and cook until clear. Add finely chopped garlic and stir for one minute. Add rice and stir until it is well coated in oil and almost translucent. Add prosecco and stir constantly until it is absorbed/evaporated.

- Add 1C (250ml) of veggie stock, stir and bring to a low simmer. Some people like to have their veggie stock simmering away in a pan next to them but I am much too lazy for that so I just pour it in at whatever temperature my stock is (which depends on if I'm using a liquid stock or a powdered on that you turn into liquid by adding boiling water). Continue to simmer, topping up with stock and stirring frequently to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once you run out of stock, you can use boiling water. Depending on what type of rice you use you will need up to about two cups (500ml) worth. 

- While rice is cooking, chop your mushrooms into a mixture of fine slices and rough chunks. Once the rice has been cooking for about 30 minutes, add the mushrooms. Add more stock/water if you need to but not too much - the mushrooms will release delicious liquid into the risotto as they cook. Continue to stir and add stock/water until the rice is cooked. This will take approximately 45 minutes in total. Lower the heat if things start to get sticky in the bottom of the pan near the end of the cooking time.

- Once the rice is cooked, add a lot of freshly cracked black pepper, and additional salt if you need it. Stir through the spinach and most of the pine nuts, along with the thinly sliced basil. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes, then give it another stir.

- Spoon into bowls and top with remaining pine nuts and basil leaves. Enjoy immediately, either alone or with bread and a side salad and of course, with the rest of the prosecco.

To thinly slice the basil, stack a few leaves on top of one another and then cut through them with a sharp knife. Leaves should be dry otherwise they bruise when you cut them, so if you need to wash your basil, do this at the beginning when you wash your mushrooms or ideally the day you bring it into your kitchen.