Risotto is one of those things I don’t usually make because I always worry about the carbs. But, I just made it on Halloween night and it was creamy, delicious heaven. Not only did I not gain an ounce, I actually lost a pound, so go figure! Maybe it was because this had so many veggies in it — spinach, zucchini, mushrooms and leeks — and it was perfect!
And for all my vegetarian friends – it’s vegetarian! You could even make it vegan by eliminating the pat of butter, the cheese and the shrimp and it would still be good.
Did I measure anything when I made it? Of course not, so I had to make it again, and measure for you guys. And it was just as good the second time as it was the first!
You just have to watch out for those sneaky leeks. If you don’t cut them lengthwise and let them soak, then separate the layers and check each one, you may be unpleasantly surprised by some grit, and I hate grit. It can ruin an entire dish for me. But leeks are delicious and worth the trouble.
I used good sized shrimp 16 to 20 count per pound. Finding shrimp from a sustainable source is not easy, in fact, it was impossible at Vons where I shop. I found a great article in the Huffington Post that tells you what to look for. I’m including a link to the entire article. It’s called, How to Buy the Right Shrimp, by Matthew Thompson, the Associate Food Editor of Eating Well Magazine.
Basically he says to look for shrimp certified by an independent agency like Wild American Shrimp (sounds like a teen movie) or the Marine Stewardship Council. The Council apparently certifies that wild fisheries are well-managed and sustainable. He also says to look for the Best Aquaculture Practices label and that’s for farmed shrimp raised without antibiotics and in conditions that exceed local environmental regulations.
I looked every where in Vons and in Trader Joes and did not find either of those labels on any of their shrimp. Most of it was from Indonesia, India or Thailand. But after reading that article, I’m going back this week to ask if they can start carrying shrimp that does. He says lots more in the article, so you should check it out, but if you can’t find a certification, he says you should buy wild caught shrimp from North America because it’s more likely sustainably caught.
If we each don’t do something to make a difference, I’m afraid we’ll run out of really great seafood and that would be a disaster. If your grocery store doesn’t carry sustainably farmed seafood, ask for it. Grocery stores do listen to their customers.
I made this risotto for my son on Halloween night. It was the first Halloween in more than 20 years that I didn’t make my old standby, Slow Roasted Chuck Roast in Wine Smothered in Onions. Every so often you gotta shake things up, but I’m including a link to that recipe because it is utterly delicious and a perfect warm your bones, fall and winter recipe. The post was called, Halloween in the ’60s, We Worked Hard for Our Candy.
I hope you’re enjoying the fall. Here in California, it’s been in the 80’s. Hardly fall weather, but it does cool off at night, so I keep my window open, let the cool air in, and snuggle, pretending I’m back home in Pennsylvania. Besides my family, I think fall is what I miss most.
So, do me a favor, go out for a walk on a nice brisk day and shuffle through the leaves for me while eating a crisp apple. Then stop and get yourself a hot tea, hot chocolate or a Pumpkin spice latte, channel me, and enjoy it. Then go inside and make this dish. You will love it!
Risotto with Shrimp, Leeks, Mushrooms, Spinach and Zucchini
I sauteed all my veggies first, it’s easier that way. Don’t freak out over how many veggies you use, they cook down to half as much.
6 Tbsp. olive oil (use 1 1/2 at a time – 1 1/2 for the leeks, same for the spinach, mushrooms and zucchini)
1 large leek or 5 cups — thoroughly rinsed and halved lengthwise and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (It ends up being about 2 cups)
1 cup cooked spinach (about 5 -6 cups fresh)
4 cups sliced mushrooms (ends up being about 2 cups)
2 medium 6 inch Italian zucchini halved and in 1/2 inch slices (about 3 cups) I used gray squash but it all cooks the same
1 1/4 cups Risotto
1 32 oz box vegetable broth.
1/3 cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese plus more for sprinkling
1-2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 oz. Chardonnay (Just a splash is all you need)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8-12 medium to large shrimp
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
First saute your leeks in the olive oil until they are tender. Set them aside.
Next saute the mushrooms with the fresh thyme, until they are tender, set them aside
Saute the zucchini- lightly browing it, and set it aside.
Saute the spinach and set it aside.
Place 1 Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large saute pan. (I used my wok because this makes a lot.). Heat until the butter melts then add the risotto. Stir it until it’s coated. Then add the vegetable broth, one cup at a time and stir until it’s incorporated. Keep adding and stirring one cup at a time. By the time you are on cup three, place the shrimp in a separate saute pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook them lightly on both sides. Once they’re not transparent anymore, remove them from the heat so they don’t overcook.
Keep stirring the risotto adding the last cup of broth. It should look creamy and should be no longer tough to bite, (don’t cook it so long it’s mushy – it should have a little firmness) then add the 1/3 cup of cheese and stir. Next add the leeks, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach and the shrimp. Taste it and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and heat through.
Sprinkle with parsley and cheese and serve. My son loved it with crushed red pepper flakes too.