Risotto: This year’s trendiest Valentine’s Day entree—and a recipe

This February 14, New York's healthy restaurants are re-imagining risotto. We asked three city chefs how they're giving this decadent dish a new, romantic life.
(Photo: Tastespotting.com)


While researching the city’s healthiest Valentine’s Day menus, we noticed an interesting trend. Three out of five of our featured restaurants are dishing out risotto—butter-free black truffle risotto, raw vegan cauliflower risotto, and vegan beet risotto.

This made us wonder: Is risotto romantic? (Or just these re-imagined versions?)

We asked the chefs serving it at Rouge Tomate, Pure Food and Wine, and Brooklyn Commune to tell us about how they’re giving this traditionally creamy, carb-laden dish a new life this February 14:

Jeremy Bearman, of Rouge Tomate, set out to tone down a traditionally rich and heavy risotto recipes with his vegetarian, butter-free Black Winter Truffle variation. “I wanted to make it into something that is equally decadent, but with ingredients that are good for you,” says Bearman, who balanced healthy fats with nutrient-rich vegetables.

• Nikki King Bennett of Pure Food and Wine crafted her risotto recipe with a touch of raw vegan humor. Since oysters are commonly known as aphrodisiacs, she used the only vegan oyster available in its place—the King Oyster…Mushroom. She then balanced the “savory, nutty mushroom with rich and creamy ingredients” and lo and behold, Cauliflower Risotto with King Oyster Mushrooms.

Christopher Scott, of Brooklyn Commune, created the vegan Beet Risotto in a Nori Embrace, with olive oil, fresh herbs, and bits of roasted beets. “The vibrant color from the beets turns out a beautiful pink [in the rice], and we’re playing with the word ‘embraced’ to describe the [densely textured] risotto being snugly wrapped in the seared nori,” he says.

The best part? You won’t miss out on post-dinner romance because of a butter-and-cheese food coma. —Elizabeth LaRosa


Want in on the trend? If you’re cooking for your paramour this February 14, here’s a risotto recipe from Rouge Tomate Chef Jeremy Bearman that you can try at home:

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
½ large yellow onion, diced small (should yield 1 cup diced)
2 cups Carnaroli rice
¼ cup Madeira
2 QTS + 1 cup mushroom stock
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Mushroom Purée (Yield from full recipe below)*
1 cup sautéed wild mushrooms

Heat mushroom stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

In a separate saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Stir frequently so that onion does not brown.

When onion has softened, add remaining Tbsp of oil and then add rice. Stir on low heat until rice becomes coated with oil and partially translucent. This takes a few minutes.  Turn heat up to medium, add the Madeira and stir until liquid is absorbed.

Using a ladle, begin to add hot stock; start with 1 cup and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat this process by adding stock, ½ cup at a time as the liquid evaporates.  As you’re cooking, season with salt to taste.

Stir risotto continuously so that rice does not brown or stick to bottom of pan. When about 1 cup of stock is remaining, and rice is almost cooked, add mushroom puree and continue stirring over medium heat (risotto should be at a simmer, not a boil).

If necessary, add remaining cup of stock to finish cooking rice to “al dente” texture.   Risotto should be creamy and a bit loose when it is finished. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and sautéed mushrooms. Serve immediately.

*Mushroom Purée

16 oz white button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, quartered
6 oz (approx 2 cups) thinly sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup Madeira

Add oil to medium pot and turn up heat to medium.

After oil is hot but not yet smoking, add mushrooms and season with pinch of salt (this helps to draw out the moisture in the mushrooms).

Continue to roast until all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, stir occasionally to prevent from burning.

Turn down heat to low, add shallots and garlic; sweat until soft and translucent. Add Madeira, continue to cook on low heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.

Take off heat and quickly transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth and set aside.  This should make just under 2 cups of puree.

Nutrition Analysis Per Serving:  440 Calories, 12 g Fat (3g Saturated Fat), 7mg Cholesterol, 60g Carbohydrate (2 g Fiber), 17g Protein

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