400g portobello mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g (2 cups) arborio rice
250ml (1 cup) white wine
750ml (3 cups) chicken stock
50g (21/2 tbsp) good-quality parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 100°C. Place the mushrooms bottoms-up on a baking tray, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the in the oven for one hour - this helps to evaporate the excess water in the mushrooms. After an hour, remove from oven and allow the mushrooms to cool.
2. Place the mushrooms into a food processor and blend into small chunks, but stop just before the mixture turns to a paste. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until softened. Add the rice and stir continuously until the entire mixture turns white in colour.
4. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so that the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring until all of the wine is absorbed.
5. Add about 150ml of the chicken stock and keep stirring the mixture until the stock is completely absorbed.
6. Next, add the mushrooms to the rice mixture, and continue pouring in small amounts of chicken stock, stirring the mixture often until the rice is soft but still has a hint of firmness. It will take 15 to 20 minutes for the rice to reach this "al dente" stage.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle over the grated parmesan cheese. Remove the pan from the stove and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving with watercress, pear and parmesan salad.
Watercress, pear and parmesan salad
1 firm pear
150g watercress, washed and with the stalks removed
50g shaved parmesan cheese
20ml (2 tbsp) cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
40ml (4 tbsp) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the pear, then shave the ?esh of the pear into thin strips.
2. Place the pear, watercress, and parmesan cheese into a bowl. Toss to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle this dressing over the salad, and serve.
Hint: Prepare the salad just before serving with the risotto, so that the pear does not go brown and the watercress doesn't wilt.