This classic Italian rice dish is creamy and hearty, getting its big flavor from a variety of mushrooms, as well as garlic, balsamic vinegar, and tarragon.
- 7 cups water
- 1 cup chopped shallots, leeks, or yellow or white onion
- 6 medium shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 2¼ cups)
- 1 medium portabella mushroom, sliced into small pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (4 or 5 medium cloves)
- 1½ cups dry/uncooked Arborio rice
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (use ⅛ cup if you prefer a milder flavor)
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus a little more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- 1 ounce raw, unsalted cashews, ground (about ¼ cup for garnish; optional)
- Bring the 7 cups of water to a low boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat so the water is steaming but not boiling. Leave it on the stovetop.
- On a separate burner, heat 1 tablespoon of water in a 4- to 5-quart, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the shallots (or leeks or onions), and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes until soft, adding a little water, as needed, to prevent sticking.
- Add all of the mushrooms and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes, adding water as needed. Add the rice and stir until the edges of the rice are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and granulated onion, and stir until you can no longer see any vinegar in the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in 1 cup of the hot water, stirring until it has been almost completely absorbed (2 to 3 minutes). Continue to add 1 cup of water at a time, stirring nearly continuously. This gradual technique is the key to getting the rice to release its starch, thereby making the dish creamy. This process takes 30 to 40 minutes and uses 6 to 7 cups of the hot water. The risotto is ready when the rice is soft but still has a bit of chew to it.
- Stir in the tarragon and lemon zest (if using). If desired, garnish with chopped tarragon and/or cashews (grind nuts with a rotary cheese grater, which gives the effect of parmesan cheese). When reheating leftovers, stir in a little water or unsweetened nondairy milk, as the risotto will have thickened considerably.
If you want to use salt-free, homemade vegetable stock in place of the water, you may.
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