Meatless Monday: Creamy Gorgonzola and Mushroom Risotto

Making risotto at home is easier than you think; you just need a little patience and 20 minutes to spare, stirring at the stove.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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The thing about risotto is that it's a hands-on dish. It's not difficult to make, at all -- though it's gotten itself the reputation of a tricky recipe. Rather, it requires your full attention for about 20 minutes while you stir warm broth into the rice until the starch in the rice breaks down and it gets really creamy. But 20 minutes, that's all. Pay attention for that long and you'll have a restaurant-quality meal at home. And once you master the basic technique (that's the standing at the stove for 20 minutes part) you'll find that risotto is a blank canvas for any kind of add-ins. Make it lemony in the spring or add butternut squash in the fall; flavor it with seafood, beets, artichokes or even chocolate, and then turn the leftover risotto into fried croquettes called arancini or rice balls.

Nadia G's Creamy Gorgonzola and Portobello Mushroom Risotto is a is a good basic risotto recipe to start with. It's creamy not from tons of cream or cheese, but from the slow stirring process. A half cup of gorgonzola added at the end gives the dish a bright flavor that complements the sauteed mushrooms. Risotto makes a hearty meal on it's own, or you can pair it with a spinach salad so you get some extra healthy greens. To take it even further, serve it with a fancy blood orange mojito, like Nadia does on her Girls' Night In episode.

Risotto tip: For the best risotto, use only short-grain Italian risotto rice, such as the Arborio in Nadia's recipe; it's commonly available in most grocery stores.  The short grains of this rice allow for the best absorption of the liquid and you'll have the creamiest risotto as a result.

Recipe courtesy of Nadia G
Serves: 4-6

3 cups organic chicken stock (substitute vegetable broth or stock to make it meatless)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 portobello mushrooms, diced
1 yellow onion, minced
Sea salt
2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup good white wine
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a bare simmer in a saucepan.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, onions and 1 teaspoon sea salt and saute for 8 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and cook until the wine has reduced completely. Ladle in the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the rice absorbs all the broth before adding more. Repeat until all the broth has been added and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into bowls and enjoy.

Meatless Monday Mover and Shaker: NYC Parent Elizabeth Puccini

When Elizabeth Puccini sought to bring Meatless Monday to The Children's Workshop School in Manhattan, she found that it was surprisingly easy to bring the program to not just that school, but to three New York City schools that share the same cafeteria. All she had to do was ask, and the School Foods Manager agreed to eliminate fried foods at school and add more plant-based foods to the menu, like chick peas and tofu on the salad bar. For parents frustrated with the healthy or meatless options at their children's' schools, Elizabeth suggests taking the first step and setting up a meeting with the school's School Foods Manager (every school is assigned one) to discuss healthier options.

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