Mimicking creamy risotto without costly aborio rice

FAST & FRESH

November 18, 1992|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

If you have ever had the opportunity to consume that lovely Italian dish called risotto, you've probably been tempted to try the creamy rice concoction in your own kitchen. This would not be without effort and some expense, for aborio, the only type of rice used in risotto is quite costly.

Before you pass up this recipe, rest assured that this is a speedy and more economical version of that luxurious classic. You possibly would turn up your nose at the addition of frozen cooked winter squash but this is a key ingredient for it adds a fulfilling creaminess to the rice that mimics the cream and cheese in risotto. The autumn rice also reflects the color tones of the season although you can make it any time of year. Cooking time is cut in half with this version so it is practical even with only 30 minutes to spare for dinner preparation.

Basmati rice is required here and is found in most supermarkets. It actually looks like a long grain white rice but has a lovely nutty flavor when cooked and is usually about one third the price of aborio rice. Shiitake mushrooms may be considered exotic but they add incomparable flavor and texture to the dish. If not freshly available in the market, they can usually be found dehydrated in the Oriental section of the grocery store and take only a few minutes to plump.

Follow the meal with fresh pears, peeled, halved, cored and poached for 6-8 minutes in the microwave. For the last 3 minutes top with a glaze of 1/2 cup raspberry preserves mixed with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Items you should have in your pantry are: olive oil, 1 onion, chicken broth, nutmeg, salad dressing, 1 lemon, raspberry jam.

Your-10-item-or-less shopping list: Basmati rice (1 1/2 cup) 10-14 ounce package, 10-12 ounce box frozen winter squash (the box says "cooked"), 1 ounce dried or 1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, 12 ounces fresh shrimp (medium size), salad greens (salad bar if

desired), 2 pears (Bosc preferred).

Autumn rice with shrimp and shitakes

Serves four.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4 -inch dice

1 1/2 cup Basmati rice

3 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade

1 12-ounce package frozen cooked winter squash, thawed (1 1/4 cup, if you have fresh cooked)

1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms sliced or 1 ounce package dried (rehydrated by placing in 1 cup water and microwaving for 3 minutes, steeping 10 minutes and then slicing)

12 ounces ( 3/4 pound) fresh medium shrimp, shelled

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

In a heavy 2-quart nonstick dutch oven or skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add onion and rice and saute while stirring, 4-5 minutes. Add chicken stock, increase heat to high, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium cover with a lid and cook 10 minutes. Add squash, nutmeg and salt and stir to mix. Cover again and cook 5 minutes more. Check bottom of pan to make sure rice is not sticking (you may have to lower heat). Now top with raw shrimp and then sliced mushrooms. Cover and cook for a final 5 minutes. (Shrimp should be a bright pink). Stir to mix ingredients but saving some shrimp and mushrooms for garnishing the top. Rice will

thicken as it cools as risotto does.

MENU

Autumn rice with shrimp and shiitakes *

Tossed

green salad *

Poached

pears with raspberry glaze

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