Mushrooms and risotto are a marriage made in heaven. When cooked properly, the earthy undertones of mushrooms add another layer of umami to the rice, as well as a wonderful color. To balance the natural sugars of the mushrooms, a sprinkle of Parmigiano or pecorino is all that is needed for a fantastic vegetarian dish.
You can make this risotto also with farro, in which case it is named farrotto. It’s a delicious dish good for all seasons and perfect for the last chilly evenings of spring.
Farro, or spelt in English, is an heirloom Italian grain very similar to barley. In fact it is possible to replace risotto rice with pearled farro, which will need a bit longer cooking time, and end up with the same creaminess but with a more complex flavor and firmer grain.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 onion (or 2 shallots), chopped
- about 4 cups mix of exotic and/or wood mushrooms (portobello, porcini, crimini, oyster, shitake)
- about 1/2 cup white wine
- about 5 cups of vegetable broth
- 1.5 cup risotto rice or farro perlato (pearled)
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or aged pecorino
- Italian parsley to garnish
In medium saucepan, bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Meanwhile clean and chop the mushrooms and onion or shallot. In large saucepan, heat about half of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl and set aside. Add remaining oil and onion or shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice or farro to the pan and stir to coat with oil. Add the wine and cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute until it evaporates off. Add 1 cup hot stock to pan and stir in mushrooms. Cook, stirring and adding more hot stock as it is absorbed, until the rice is tender but still firm, about 40 minutes, longer if using farro.
Mix in the Parmesan or pecorino and adjust salt if necessary.
Serve with additional freshly grated cheese on each serving.
Variations: use red wine with strong flavored mushrooms, add asparagus or roasted squash/pumpkin, add freshly ground pepper, top with a dollop of garlicky red pepper and tomato sauce or add smoked pancetta to the initial sauté.