14 August 2013

Risotto with a Crown of Green Beans and Mushrooms

Classic Risotto a la Marcella Hazan  ... this is a simple summer supper ... after a day of making and canning pizza sauce for our weekly pizza pies. A glass of chilled white wine and big bowls of this beautiful dish ... feet up for a ball game on the television ... and the day ended well.

Marcella Hazan gives us such a nice little tutorial on making risotto in her classic cookbook called Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. She makes a distinction between the firmer and stickier risottos of the Piedmont, Lombardy, and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy and the smoother, looser and runny versions of the Veneto region in northeastern Italy. This looser, gooey, saucier version is my preferred risotto. Hazan calls it 'wavy' or all'onda. I call it gluten free comfort food.

Our risotto last evening was made with Hazan's basic recipe. To it, I added three drops of white truffle oil and browned Crimini mushrooms, fresh parsley, and black pepper. Crisping the edges of the mushrooms added a nice texture that played nicely with the smooth saucy texture of the rice. Simple is so good.

Risotto with Parmesan Cheese
from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
slightly adapted by The Spice Garden

Serves 2 - 3


1 tbsp. butter
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ c. dry white wine
1 ¼ c. Arborio rice
2 ½ c. strong meat or vegetable broth (I use chicken broth)
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling a top (if desired)

Some Optional Add-Ins:

Truffle oil ( just a few drops!)
¼ c. fresh chopped parsley
2 – 3 cups quartered fresh Crimini mushrooms, fried to a nice brown crisp in 1 tbsp. butter
2 c. roasted winter squash
2 c. pear cubes that have been browned in butter until they are soft but still have a bit of bite
2 c. blanched asparagus tips

Making the Risotto:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a deep heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and just beginning to become golden.
  2. Add the Arborio rice and swish it to coat it with the oils and onion juices. Toast the rice for a couple minutes and as it begins to become golden, add the garlic and continue swishing it about. Cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in the wine and stand back a bit, as it will have a ‘steam explosion’. Stir the rice until the wine is almost absorbed. Then begin adding the broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring in a gentle ‘figure 8’ pattern.
  4. Continue stirring frequently until the broth is almost absorbed and then add another ½ cup measure of broth … repeat the process above.
  5. While the risotto cooks, prepare the mushrooms and parsley or your choice of add-ins, stirring the risotto between prep steps.
  6. When almost all the broth has been used, begin taste testing your risotto … it should creamy smooth, but have a soft bite – a bit al dente.
  7. When the rice is almost perfect, stir in the Parmesan cheese, three drops of white truffle oil, half the mushrooms and parsley, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
  8. Plate the risotto on a pretty platter and crown the risotto with the mushrooms, parsley, and black pepper. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the mushrooms.

 Gluten Free Comfort Food


  1. i do love a good risotto Susan and would enjoy your additions.

  2. I love Marcella's books and I like your version of her risotto. Beautifully plated as well.


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