I have to admit I love Italian food. Pasta, pizza, gnocchi, risotto and of course gelato are all on my favourite foods list. They are, however, not so kind to my waist line. Instead of missing out on them all together, I’ve been experimenting with reducing the calories and not the deliciousness! The result – low calorie mushroom risotto. It’s probably not something you’d feed a hungry boy but it definitely satisfies my mid-week Italian cravings.
It doesn’t take much to whip up a risotto. Jamie Oliver told me (personally of course…or it could have been on ‘Jamie Does’ a few weeks ago) that all you need is an onion, arborio rice and stock and then from there you add whatever flavours your heart desires. I used mushrooms, basil, spinach, parmesan and pepper to spice mine up.
Sautee one finely chopped onion (I used my chopper), in one tbs of olive oil until nearly transparent. I was advised by someone, somewhere to use a wooden spoon for risotto, so I do as I’m told. I have no idea why you’re meant to though so if anyone can enlighten me I’d be most appreciative.
Next step, add 1 cup of arborio rice and stir until it glistens.
Now comes the tiring part. Add the stock about half a cup at a time. Don’t add the next lot until it has been absorbed by the rice. You don’t have to stir constantly but make sure you scrape the bottom well or you’ll end up with crusty risotto and no one likes that (no one I know anyway!).
Now it’s time to add your 500g of chopped mushrooms. You can use any type of mushroom you like. Mix them around until they’re well coated in rice and onion and continue until they reach your desired ‘doneness’.
This is my calorie-reducing trick – add a bag of spinach. I do this for all types of one-pot meals like curries, stews etc. It reduces to practically nothing and doesn’t really taste like much but can make a 4-serve meal stretch to 5.
Once the spinach is well concealed, turn off the heat and add your finishing touches.
I added a few big leaves of basil (fresh from my garden) a handful of grated fresh parmesan and some pepper. You can add salt if you like but the stock and the parmesan make it quite salty on their own. Stir them through, dish it up and voila… risotto for only 270 calories! What’s for dessert?
This recipe also freezes very well. I like to keep it on hand for quick dinners when I’m feeling lazy or a delicious lunch on a cold day.
Basil & Mushroom Risotto – serves 5, 270 calories per serve
2 cups of chicken stock (warm)
2 cups warm water
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
500g mushrooms, chopped
1 handful of grated parmesan
2 tbs shredded basil
1 bag of baby spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sautee until transparent. Add the rice and stir through until it glistens.
Add hot stock/water mix about 1/2 a cup at a time, waiting until stock is absorbed before adding the next lot of stock (don’t forget to stir and scrape the bottom).
Once stock is absorbed, add mushrooms and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Add the spinach and stir through until it is wilted.
Remove the pan from the heat and mix through basil, parmesan and pepper.