Bravery in the form of risotto

I want to give Fridays a hug.

Really, they are not drastically different from any other weekday. I get up. I go to work. I go to the wellness center. I come home and dumb an amazing pile of stuff which I've accumulated all day onto my bed. But it’s the freedom in the evenings that we all love so much, (even if we – well me – are completely exhausted).  It’s what causes Jasmine to rock out to Miley Cyrus in the living. It’s what causes Annali to come home from work, walk into the kitchen and bust out a Rebecca Black sample while I wiggle my knees and stir the risotto. It’s what causes me to consume a lot of ice cream with Jill as we watch Harry Potter and exclaim how much we love Neville.

Good things happen on Friday evenings, including opportunities to be brave. 

You might internally laugh at this, but this was my “act of bravery:” I made risotto.

I bought a package of Arborio rice about three weeks ago. I was going to embrace fall and make butternut risotto. But as the weeks went along, I found myself avoiding this rice packet. I would talk myself out of trying it, though I am not sure why. The annoying thing was that this Arborio rice was not cheap. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to have to deal with this business.

Tonight was the night I faced my risotto fears. This was even the very first night I was going to “introduce my cooking” to my new housemates. No pressure or anything.

And, of course, it was so easy that I am not even sure what I was “hiding from” in the first place. 

I ended up going a different risotto route than butternut, simply because I kept taking what squash I had and making it into into curried bisque. (Replace the half and half with coconut milk, it’s awesome). So I googled for awhile, but wasn’t able to find what I had in mind.

Eventually, I stumbled upon this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (and since Joy the Baker likes this blog, I figured it was pretty safe). I switched it up a little bit in order to make it vegetarian. I also used feta instead of parmesan, (because somehow I went into Dillons to buy parm and came out with feta. I need to focus more...). Overall, it was pretty tasty.

I have gotten over my risotto fears, which is a good thing too because I still have a whole bag full of it.

Tomato, mushroom and spinach risotto

1 can diced tomatoes
1 T olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped 
2 T butter
Feta cheese

In small sauce pan, combine tomatoes (with juices) with 3 cups of water*. Bring to just a simmer, keep warm over low heat. 

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.Add onion and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms have browned and onions are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, about 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute. 

Add about 2 cups hot tomato mix to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mix, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes. (You might not need all the liquid)

When risotto is almost ready, mix in spinach, stirring until it has wilted. Remove pan from heat when done. Add butter and stir until melted. Sprinkle with feta cheese if desired. 

*For whatever reason, I am always cautious when it comes to recipes that cook with rice or lentils that don't include any type of broth. Broth, opposed to water, adds a nice depth of flavor. However, since I was nervous about making this, I stuck pretty close to the originally recipe. I did however, use 2 1/2 cups water with 1/2 cup veggie broth for the tomato mix. I also used it to keep my mushrooms from sticking to the pan when they were browning. 

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen