This morning I discovered I had half a bag of Arborio rice in my cabinet. After finding half an onion and half a package of mushrooms (that were about three days away from going bad) in the fridge, I decided it was time to make risotto. However, I realized I didn’t have any vegetable broth (which came as no surprise since I rarely ever buy it). I did a quick Google search to see if it’s possible to make risotto subbing water for broth. According to The New York Times, it’s possible as long as you add extra flavor to make up for the flavor you’re losing by skipping the broth.
To make up for the lack of broth in my broth-less risotto, I caramelized onions in olive oil and butter with a few bay leaves and a clove of garlic. I added mushrooms and peas, both to up the veggie quotient and to add more flavor, and I added sea salt, pepper, and probably a little too much Parmesan cheese. The result was a rich, flavorful risotto that made me question why I had used broth to make it in the past.
Broth-less Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas
Makes enough for 2 main courses or 4 sides
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. butter
2 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic, chopped into 3-4 large pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
6-8 medium to large mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup Arborio rice
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (not the powdery stuff the comes in a tub, grate it from a block of cheese)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil and butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Add the bay leaves, onions, garlic, and a large pinch of salt.
2. Sauté onions, stirring ever couple minutes until they’re mostly caramelized, about 20 minutes. It’s important to make sure the onions don’t get crispy, turn the heat down if that starts to happen.
3. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked but not yet browning.
4. Add the rice, 1 cup of water, and around a teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir. Continue stirring every few minutes until most of the water has been absorbed by the rice.
5. Add about half a cup more of water and the peas, stirring occasionally until almost completely absorbed. Continue adding water in small increments until it’s almost completely absorbed by the rice. The whole rice cooking process should take around 30 minutes. You may need to adjust the amount of water slightly.
6. At this point, the rice should be slightly al dente and the risotto almost ready to eat. Turn off the burner, keeping the pot on the stove. Remove the bay leaves and garlic pieces, add more salt and pepper to taste, and add the cheese. Stir to combine.
7. Spoon into bowls, add a pinch of pepper and/or a sprinkle of cheese and enjoy!
Dietary restrictions note: this recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian. It can easily be made vegan or lactose free by replacing the butter with olive oil and leaving out the cheese.