February 23, 2012

Spinach & Porcini Mushroom Risotto

I love mushrooms and will eat them in almost anything. Salads, Pilafs, Curries ... whatever. Historically, I have pretty much stuck to the usual varieties - white or brown button mushrooms and Portabella, which were commonly found in India and are also quite commonly found in grocery stores in the United States. One of the recent "Happy Herbivore" newsletters talked about how healthy mushrooms are and it suggested we try to make a variety we haven't tried before. So, when I was at the neighborhood Kroger, and saw that they had small packs of various exotic varieties of mushrooms, I picked up a pack of Dried Porcini Mushrooms as Vegetable #10 for New Year Resolution #2, even though they're not strictly a vegetable. 

Porcini Risotto
Prep Time: 30-45 min.

  1. 1 small pack (0.5 oz) dried Porcini mushrooms
  2. 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  3. 2 tsp minced garlic
  4. 1 tsp dried oregano
  5. 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  6. 1 pack (12 oz) Mori-Nu Silken Tofu (firm)
  7. 1 cup soy milk
  8. 4 tbsp (heaping) Nutritional Yeast
  9. Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 
Buying and Reconstituting Dried Porcini Mushrooms:

So here's what I've learnt about buying dried porcini from my research. Make sure that the bag has large chunks of porcini and not old crumbly pieces. Also makes sure that the bag has no holes, or signs of worms or mold. When I opened the package at home, there was a really strong, almost pungent, mushroom aroma that rose from them. If there is no smell, there is likely no flavor in them either.  To reconstitute, bring half cup water, or vegetable broth to a rolling boil.  Add mushrooms, swirl, cover and set aside for about 15 min.  Remove mushrooms with tongs and set aside. Strain the steeping liquid through a fine mesh strainer, or cheese cloth. This liquid will bring a lot more of the lovely earthy flavor of the mushrooms to the recipe.   

I used a modification of Lindsay Nixon's Instant Vegan Alfredo Sauce today. I used a lightly different spice mix and also used fresh onions. Also, I didn't use any vegan cheese. In a skillet, bring the steeping liquid from reconstituting the mushrooms to a rolling boil. Turn down heat to medium and add garlic and onions. Once the onions become translucent, add baby spinach, oregano, salt and pepper, and half cup soy milk. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk silken tofu and remaining soy milk together to as fine a paste as possible and add to the skillet. A food processor seemed like too much work for me (I might end up buying a stick blender for quick jobs such as this one). Separately boil rice and when the sauce begins to thicken, add rice and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top. Cover and let the flavors blend for a few minutes before serving.  

Nik's Reaction: None. He's recovering from a gentle bout of stomach flu and when he didn't show interest in eating rice, or anything much at all for dinner today, I didn't push the issue.  

My Assessment:  I really really enjoyed this dish. I'd read that dried porcini have a concentrated flavor and aroma and that was indeed very true. The whole dish has that lovely mushroom flavor and I'm glad I made enough for my lunch tomorrow as well. 

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