Fall is in the air

risotto is on the table

October 20, 2007|By Mollie Katzen | Mollie Katzen,Tribune Media Services

The more colorful the foliage and the nippier the air, the heartier-yet-simpler our suppers can be. Here's a great recipe for expressing that autumn spirit - a rich, earthy risotto laced with the pleasantly bitter edge of radicchio, deepened by the mysterious flavor of porcini mushrooms, bound together in a lush, soothing backdrop of the traditional creamy rice.

The charm of any risotto is the contrast between the separate, al dente grains and the thick, smooth sauce in which they are suspended. It is very important to serve risotto immediately after it is made. If risotto sits or gets reheated, the rice will keep cooking and disappear into the background. Translation: mush.

Serve this with a salad that also contains radicchio, and you'll get a beautiful contrast of textures and layers of the essence of that very assertive vegetable.

Mollie Katzen writes for Tribune Media Services.

Radicchio Risotto

Makes 4 servings

3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (see note)

2 cups boiling water

4 cups vegetable broth (see note)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups finely minced onion

1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

3/4 teaspoon salt (possibly more, to taste)

1/2 cup dry white wine, at room temperature

1 medium-sized (8-ounce) head radicchio, finely chopped (3 packed cups)

3/4 cup grated pecorino-romano or parmesan cheese

Place the mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover with a plate and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, squeezing out and saving all the water. Remove the stems, if necessary, and cut the mushrooms into thin strips.

Combine the mushroom water and the broth in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 4-quart casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened.

Add the mushrooms, garlic, rice and salt, and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine, and cook until it is all absorbed.

Stir in the radicchio and then start to add the simmering broth 1/2 cup at a time, letting each addition be completely absorbed before adding another 1/2 cup. Reserve 1/4 cup broth to be added at the end. It takes approximately 18 minutes for rice to reach the al dente stage.

Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of broth and the cheese. Combine well and serve immediately.

Note: This will be even more delicious if you use a flavorful vegetable broth (such as Imagine brand) and a good, dry white wine that you would be happy drinking.

Note: It's possible to buy 3/4 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms without having to sell your first-born to be able to afford it. Shop around (including on the Internet).

Per serving: 530 calories, 14 grams protein, 15 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 81 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 1,620 milligrams sodium. Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.

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