Mushroom Risotto with Parsnip Purée

Yesterday on my way to work I was listening to a story on NPR’s Morning Edition about Mediterranean cooking and a chef was talking about a mushroom risotto with parsnip purée. They didn’t provide a recipe, so I patched my own together from several different recipes I found online.

As usual, the photo falls flat (it’s dark when I eat dinner!) but trust me, if you like mushrooms, this is a great meal and can easily be made vegetarian if you sub veggie stock for chicken stock.

I technically didn’t use Arborio rice for last night’s meal. I used farro, which is an ancient grain that’s supposedly really healthy and can be found at health food stores. Use whatever grain you desire, you’ll still have a flavorful dish.

I’ve not really cooked parsnips before, and purée sounds fancy, but is really just cooked parsnips put in the blender. Simple, creamy, flavorful and a great topping to the risotto.

I served this with chicken piccata — cutlets in a white wine lemon sauce with capers.

Ingredients for risotto:
1/2 onion, finely chopped
olive oil
3/4 lb. crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
3/4 cup dried Arborio rice, farro or brown rice
1/4 cup dry white wine or sherry
2-3 cans chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

For the parsnips:
1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and largely diced
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a small microwave safe bowl, place the porcini mushrooms with 1/4 cup stock and 1/4 cup water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and heat for two minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid and finely chop the porcini mushrooms.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Sauté the crimini and porcini mushrooms for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Set mushrooms and any liquid aside. Add another small swig of olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent, about five minutes. Add the dry rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Add half the mushroom water and cook till absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining mushroom water. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time letting rice absorb the liquid before adding more, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 minutes when rice becomes tender.

Meanwhile, add the milk and parsnips to a small saucepan and simmer till parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the milk as it can easily boil over if heat is too high. While parsnips are cooking, heat the butter in a small frying pan. Add the 1/2 cup onion and sauté till soft, about five minutes.

Add milk, parsnips and onions to a blender and blend till completely puréed. Transfer to a small serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, cover and set aside.

When the rice is tender and ready to eat, turn off the heat. Stir in the mushrooms, butter and cheese till well combined. Serve risotto with dollops of parsnip purée.

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