… A Single Dish of Amazing Flavors and Textures!
Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to eat. I think it has a sexiness to it that only a few other foods possess. There’s a seduction that slowly infuses the soul when tasting each separate flavor and texture, and together still creating a completeness that finishes so well.
The subtle essence from the fennel offers undertones of licorice, while the marsala wine sweetens. Mushrooms add an earthy note and enhance the aromatics of sautéd red onion and garlic.
The textures keep each bite intriguing, with the tenderness of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the perfectly cooked arborio rice. Bok choy surprises with sporadic bites of fresh crispness. The sweet meatiness of the crunchy roasted pecans …
… This gluten-free, dairy-free risotto seduces me more with each forkful.
Mushroom Fennel Risotto with Bok Choy and Pecans
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Makes about 6 main dish size servings
8 cups gluten-free chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegan version) – I use Swanson’s Natural Goodness Chicken Broth
2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel (stalks, fronds, and outer layer removed), bulb finely chopped
1/3 cup marsala wine
2 cups arborio rice
8 ounces (about 2 cups) pecan halves
5-6 baby bok choy stalks, cut into fine strips from base to tip of leaves
2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, long stems removed, coarsely chopped
1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 Tablespoon non-dairy margarine – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free
1 10-ounce package sliced button mushrooms
salt and pepper, to taste
Pour chicken broth into large sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Keep at a simmer the entire time the rice is cooking.
Sauté garlic, onion, and fennel in 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron Dutch oven over medium-low. Sprinkle with just a hint of salt and pepper.
Deglaze the pan with the marsala wine and simmer about 2 minutes.
Add rice and cook until a white dot appears in the center of each grain of rice, 1-2 minutes.
Ladle 2-3 ladlefuls of the broth into the rice, or until all rice is covered with liquid. Simmer on low until the rice begins to appear above the liquid level, about 3-4 minutes. Add some pepper. Add more broth at this point. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too much. Excessive stirring will cause the risotto to become gummy. Continue this process of adding liquid and simmering the rice about 20-30 minutes, tasting a couple of times to check the progression of the doneness. Most of the liquid will be needed to reach desired tenderness of the rice by the time risotto is done. The finished risotto will still have some broth that is not fully absorbed. This is important because the risotto continues to absorb the liquid after it is finished cooking. While the risotto is cooking, continue with the next steps.
Toast pecans in a dry (no oil needed), heavy skillet over low heat, or in an oven-proof dish in the oven set at 325ºF, until lightly browned. You’ll be able to smell their scent just before they become overly toasted. This only takes about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
When the risotto is almost done, continue to the next steps …
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon margarine in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, just until the margarine melts.
Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown, adding additional oil or margarine if needed. Salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from pan and set aside.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over low heat, in the skillet used for the mushrooms, and add the bok choy and spinach. They will reduce significantly in volume when they begin to wilt, allowing for easier stirring. This is a quick cooking process and just enough to soften the greens and keep the bok choy stalks crisp-tender. Remove from heat.
Combine cooked risotto, mushrooms, and sautéd greens in Dutch oven. Stir to fully incorporate flavors and ingredients. Remove from heat.
Ladle risotto into bowls and garnish with toasted pecans.
Serve and be lured in by every bite!
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
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