One of my favorite comfort foods is risotto, the creamy rice dish that can be made to please almost any food craving.
I actually enjoy standing at the stove stirring constantly as the rice absorbs the broth—when I have the time and feel like zoning out—but the dish will be fine with occasional stirring as well, so you can make a salad or feed the dog without sacrificing the quality.
Heck, I've made a decent risotto in the microwave.
Years ago, Newsday was doing a story for their Wednesday cooking section on people who use their microwaves for more than reheating coffee and popping popcorn.
I was making—and enjoying—a recipe for Basic Risotto from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet, so I sent the reporter an email.
I was interviewed over the phone and they sent a photographer to my Upper West Side apartment to shoot me making the dish.
The basic risotto recipe, cooked on the stove top, is comprised of broth, Arborio rice, butter or oil, onion, white wine, salt and pepper and grated cheese, usually Parmesan. I prefer Pecorino Romano, because I like the more aggressive flavor.
And while the basic recipe is great on its own, you can think of it as a blank canvas and add other tasty layers to make it your own.
Think adding garden-fresh peas, asparagus, butternut squash or chopped tomatoes. Substitute water and a couple cups of clam broth along with cooked shrimp for a seafood version.
For this version, I decided I wanted scallions and mushrooms, which I sauteed in a little olive oil. Normally, you would saute finely chopped onions to start, but I decided to skip that step since I would be adding the scallions later.
Some recipes call for a combination of water and broth, but I prefer the "high test" version of all broth. Plan for four cups of liquid, but you may or may not need all of it. I usually do.
You can skip the butter at the end, but it does give it a nice finish.
Risotto with Scallions and Mushrooms
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (your favorite kind)
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Then add the mushrooms and sautee until they soften and release their water.
- Add the chopped scallions and sautee until just translucent. Set the mushrooms and scallions aside. This can be done well ahead of preparing the rest of the dish. Just refrigerate.
- Heat the broth until piping hot, either in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
- Heat a 2-1/2 quart or larger saucepan over medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rice, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Stir frequently for a couple of minutes.
- Add the wine and stir occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add two cups of the hot broth and reduce the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally until the broth has been absorbed, probably 7-10 minutes. Continue adding the broth one cup at a time. Let the liquid be absorbed, stirring occasionally, before adding the next cup. Reheat the broth if needed.
- When you add the final cup of broth, add the sauteed mushrooms and scallions.
- You may not need all the broth. When the rice is creamy and tender, with a bit of a bite, remove from the heat. Stir in the grated cheese, butter and chopped parsley. Check the seasonings and, if necessary, add salt and/or pepper.