I don’t know how I have stayed away from cooking in 2019, you guys. But I tell you, now that I am back, it feels so good, and normal! I’ve been feeling a bit low lately but I cooked up a storm and I am back!! Feeling extremely positive and mentally energized. Just what I needed to kickstart 2020. Which reminds me – HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉 I hope the new year brings you all amazing luck, lots of love, good health and great food all year round.
I was cleaning out my pantry today and I noticed I had an unopened pack of arborio rice. Easy decision on lunch. There is nothing better than cooking an amazing meal from what you have at home – in my case today, it was arborio rice, mushrooms, fresh arugula et voilà! It screamed out Garlic Mushroom and Arugula Risotto to me. On the side, for some tang and crunch, I made my trusty Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruschetta. It’s all about flavors and textures.
I had never made risotto until a few years ago when I decided it was about time to see what the big deal is, because as we all know risotto does have a reputation for being fussy, time-consuming, and of course for being served at fancy restaurants. Little did I know that once I made it, that I would keep making it over and over in the years to come.
First, let’s talk about this yummy garlic and mushrooms duo – a match made in heaven. And fresh arugula, peppery and clung in extra virgin olive oil topped on creamy arborio rice – a combination to die for. I usually go for arborio rice but it is really up to you what kind of rice to use – the key trait of arborio rice is, the starch actually gives it a gelatinous texture when cooked. That’s why risotto is creamy without actually needing a lot of cream or cheese to be added (while some recipes ask for it).
But if you want to go for a healthier version of risotto, you can try this Barley Risotto I made, which also tastes so good and is low on the guilt!
- Arborio rice – 2 cups (or 400 gms)
- Garlic – 5-6 big cloves, chopped fine
- Red onion – 1, medium, finely chopped
- Mushrooms – ideally a mix of as many varieties as you can get (cremini, button, portobello, porcini, shitaake) – 2 cups, chopped roughly
- Arugula or Rucola or Rocket leaves – 2 cups, fresh and washed clean
- Worchestershire sauce – 1 tbsp
- Salted butter – 3 tbsp
- Chili flakes – 1 tsp
- Vermouth or white wine – 75 ml
- Parmesan – 1 small handful, , freshly grated, plus extra for serving
- Olive oil – to dress the arugula, 1 tsp
- Salt and fresh ground pepper – to taste
- Vegetable or Chicken Stock – 1.5 litres (I make veggie stock by boiling carrots, celery, shitaake mushrooms, garlic, onion, and coriander. Take double the amount of water than the quantity of stock needed and boil down for about 30-45 min. Strain out the veggies and use the stock. ) OR the easy way out is, just add a stock cube.
Garlic Mushrooms :
In a pan, add salted butter, followed by half the chopped garlic, half the chopped onion and cook till fragrant. Add chili flakes and mix well.
Now, add the mushrooms and cook on high heat.
You will see the mushrooms leaving some water and shrinking down. Cook the water out, not completely dry but enough to just about keep the mushrooms nice and moist. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
In a flat pan, add the rest of the butter, garlic, and onion. Once fragrant, add the dry arborio rice and stir well. Make sure it is not sticking to the pan. Stir in the vermouth or wine – it’ll smell fantastic! Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice.
Now, from the stock you have made, keep adding a ladleful of stock to the rice and keep stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. The key to a good risotto is that you keep adding the stock and stirring and this is what lets the rice release the starch and become nice and creamy. Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Now add the mushrooms to the rice and mix well.
Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Remember, the butter is already salted and the mushroom mix has Worchestershire sauce and salt. Stir in some more butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to rest for about 2-3 minutes.
While the risotto is resting, in a mixing bowl, dress the arugula with some extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
Before you serve, add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with the dressed arugula, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.