We use mushrooms in this risotto recipe but you could use cooked artichokes or dried ceps that you have first reconstituted in hot water, then rinsed and drained.
Serves 2 (recipe doubles easily)
1 small onion or shallot, peeled and finely chopped
14g butter mixed with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 brown mushrooms or fresh ceps, sliced finely
200g carnaroli rice
80ml white wine
600ml boiling stock (vegetable or chicken)
Handful of baby spinach, chopped finely
For the mantecare
25 g unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese (for a vegetarian option)
4 brown mushrooms or fresh ceps, sliced and fried in olive oil
1. Use a shallow frying pan, that is one that is about two inches deep, or a non-stick saucepan. Fry the onion gently in the butter/olive oil. When it is soft, add the finely chopped mushrooms and parsley and fry gently until the mushrooms are soft and coloured. Add the rice and fry over a gentle heat until it is lightly golden and looks pearly. Add the wine, turn the heat up and cook until the wine is reduced to almost nothing.
2. When the rice has absorbed the wine, add the stock, a little at a time. Stir the rice frequently to release the starch, and when the rice has absorbed the stock, add more, until the rice is cooked and is soft on the outside with the tiniest hard white bit in the middle of the grain when you bite into it. You will have to squish a grain on the back of a wooden spoon to test it, or eat a few grains and see. The rice should be soft with only a little bit of bite in the middle of each grain. The risotto will keep on cooking in the pan even when you have turned the heat off. That’s why you need to stop before it turns to mush. A few minutes before the risotto is a perfect texture add the baby spinach leaves, leave to wilt and stir through the risotto.
3. Now for the mantecare: add the butter and grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano) and beat the risotto well with a wooden spoon. Serve immediately with the fried sliced mushrooms on top.
If you are using dried mushrooms, soaked 8 dried ceps or porcini in a cup of boiling water. Drain to remove grit and chop finely before adding to the risotto.
Is Parmesan vegetarian?
If you want to keep this recipe strictly vegetarian, replace the Parmesan with a vegetarian equivalent, for example the Italian cheese Grana Padano which is quite like it and even costs less (Parmesan is made with calf rennet).