Mushroom Risotto and Broccoli Salad

submitted by Kristi H.

Recently I had a cooking challenge that rivaled the scenarios that play out on the Food Network channel each day. A friend with recent health challenges requires (at the moment) a soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free diet. Here are a few recipes I made for her that fit the bill, and they’re easy and delicious to boot!


Mushroom Risotto (serves 4-6)

1/2 ounce dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 yellow onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 large sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 t dried)

1 cup Arborio or short-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to garnish

Caramelized onions or shallots (directions below)

Heat the oven to 300°F. Rinse the dried mushrooms lightly, place them in a ceramic bowl, and pour the boiling water over them. Set them aside to steep while you cook the onions. Heat olive oil in a larger ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Push the onions to the side of the pot, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add all the sliced cremini mushrooms and let them cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes, or until they are quite brown and a crust is developing on the bottom of the pan. Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the mushrooms and rosemary to the pan and sauté briefly, mixing with the onion and the rest of the mushrooms. Add the rice and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 4 minutes, or until the rice begins to turn transparent. Turn the heat to high and add the white wine, vinegar, broth, and reserved mushroom steeping liquid. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan as you add the liquid to deglaze any yummy mushroom bits sticking to the pan. Stir in the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and put it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

While the rice is baking, make caramelized onions/shallots. Heat about 1/3 cup olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cut onions and/or shallots in half, and then slice them into thin half moons. Add them to the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark mahogany brown. Let them go a long time, at least 30 minutes if you can. When the risotto has finished baking, let it stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving. Dish it up and top each bowl with a spoonful of caramelized onions, a little extra pepper.


Broccoli Salad

1 pound broccoli florets, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds or slivered almonds

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries, chopped

 Honey mustard dressing

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Toast the sunflower seeds: Pour the sunflower seeds into a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently (careful, they’ll burn!), until the seeds are turning golden on the sides, about 5 minutes. Pour the toasted seeds into a large serving bowl. Add the chopped broccoli, onion, and cranberries to the serving bowl. In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients (olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic and salt). Whisk until the mixture is well blended. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until all of the broccoli is lightly coated in dressing. Let the salad marinate for about 20 minutes, or even overnight in the refrigerator.