Good Risotto Gone Bad

We’ve all been there. You read a recipe and think, “Wow, that sounds delicious!” only to end up with a bland or boring concoction that you just wasted 30+ minutes of your life on. It happens to everyone, regardless of culinary savvy. Sometimes it’s the fault of the recipe, sometimes the cook, and sometimes external forces of differing cooktops or oven temperatures; altitude; humidity.

Life in a kitchen is an adventure and the recipe listed below is not exactly what I made. The recipe below is what I wish I had made instead. When my friend, Jess, found the recipe and sent it to me, we were both excited by how low the calorie count was for how rich the recipe sounded. Hell, I even ate dairy because I thought it would be worth it. And to be clear, it wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t the amazing meal we had both envisioned and salivated for.

The recipe below has a few tweaks and changes made that *in theory* should help to boost the flavor quotient for this recipe, while still keeping it healthy and in line with the nutritional content of the original recipe that inspired it…

Vegetarian Cheesy Risotto

–4 cups of vegetable broth or stock
–Asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
–2 TBSP olive oil
–1 small sweet onion, chopped
–garlic, minced
–1 small red bell pepper, sliced into long thin strips
–1 cup Arborio rice
–1 TBSP butter
–8oz. package of sliced crimini or baby portabella mushrooms
–4 ounces Boursin light herbed cheese spread

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the vegetable broth/stock to rolling boil. Add the asparagus pieces and blanch for two-ish minutes. You will want the asparagus to be crisp but tender (springy if you squeeze a piece). Turn off the burner. Using a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus from the broth, leaving the broth in the saucepan–you will use this to make the risotto.

While the broth is working toward boiling, cook onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat until translucent. Add sliced bell pepper and cook until all veggies are tender. Add the rice and cook two-ish minutes–stirring often–until rice is lightly browned.

Add one cup of the broth to the rice and veggies mixture. Stir often until the broth is absorbed. Continue to add broth, in batches, until the rice is fully plumped! You’ll know that you’re done adding liquid when the rice has expanded, has a creamy texture, and is no longer crunchy when bitten into. (Taste early, taste often!)

While the rice is plumping, saute the mushrooms in the butter. There are about the same number of calories in one tablespoon of butter (110 or so) as there are in one tablespoon of olive oil (120 or so). The difference between these two oils is the fat. For the purpose of our mushrooms, we want the flavor of the butter to enrich the rest of our dish!

When the rice is cooked, stir in the cheese and asparagus. Mix until cheese is melted. Add the mushrooms and mix it all up. Crack in some black pepper. I hope it’s delicious!

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4
Calories: 276 per serving

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