Monday, August 2, 2010

Meatless Monday: Morel Mushroom Risotto

I love making risotto so much that sometimes I think I should change my name to Risotto Diva.

Lately, I've been on a veggie risotto kick. I love hitting up the farmers market for the best local produce and then transforming it into a creamy (without any cream), sumptuous rice dish made with homemade vegetable stock. I find that risotto really showcases its ingredients, making it an ideal vessel for foodie deliciousness. In fact, my upcoming "Domestic Diva" column for the Hawaii Women's Journal is all about risotto (stay tuned for the publication).

Last week, at Kuzak's urging, I hit up LA's FungHi booth at the Hollywood Farmers Market for some morel mushrooms. The tables were loaded up with baby shitakes, chanterelles, and oyster mushroom, but I couldn't let myself be distracted by the treasure chest of funghi. I was on a morel mission. These mushrooms are prized by French cooks and contain a small amount of toxins that are removed by cooking (they should never be consumed raw). I scooped up a prized $10 paper bag of morels, ogling their honeycomb shape, and brought them home.

After some contemplation, I decided to make a morel mushroom risotto. My goal was to showcase as much morel flavor as possible. First, I made a quick vegetable risotto by simmering onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns and the morel mushroom stems in filtered water for an hour.  I love using homemade vegetable stocks when making risotto. I find that it gives the dish a delicate, subtle flavor that doesn't overshadow the ingredients. Next, I made a very basic risotto with the mushrooms. I finished the dish with grated Parmesan Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

Kuzak and I settled down at the table to feast, the Adorable Monster curled up in a ball at our feet, and dug into the dish. The delicate, creamy risotto let the morel mushrooms shine. We savored their flavor down to the very last bite.

Note: this risotto recipe would work for any type of mushrooms.

Morel Mushroom Risotto
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Print Recipe

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup shallots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup morel mushrooms, stems removed and halved
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
salt and pepper

Add the vegetable stock to a sauce pan and warm over medium low heat.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Next, add the mushrooms and saute until they soften and their juices release. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook for another one to two minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook until absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Once the wine has been absorbed, add the vegetable stock 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock. Continue cooking the rice in the stock until it's cooked al dente (you may not use all of the stock). When the rice is cooked, finish the risotto by stirring in the parmesan and a little more olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
morel mushrooms from LA FungHi (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic carrots, organic celery and organic onions from Hollywood Farmers Market

extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan Reggiano, organic shallots and Arborio rice from Trader Joe's

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