Dairy Free Risotto- just how Mamma should have made it!

It’s a common misconception that risotto needs the addition of cream to be creamy, or cheese to add richness.  It needs neither, the creaminess come from picking the right rice (carnaroli is my favourite) and stirring and stirring, slowly releasing the starch from the grains; cheese serves mainly as a seasoning, adding depth of flavour and saltiness, but you can get both of those things without parmesan.

My favourite risotto has to be a deep, earthy porcini, but it’s one of the most flexible bases for different flavours that I know of.  Adding saffron makes a beautiful amber tinted risotto which is wonderful with fish, fresh lemon, peas and asparagus are lighter for spring time.

My daughter loves risotto, it’s a great food for babies and toddlers as it’s easy to eat, and while it’s not a great finger food it’s consistency is pretty good for fork/spoon training.

Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!

its also a flash dinner party starter or main when you top the risotto with different textures and complimentary flavours; try adding roasted garlicky mushrooms, crunch walnuts or crispy fried sage leaves to a porcini risotto, or toasted pine nuts to the lemon and vegetable variety.

Porcini Risotto – Serves 5-6


5 tablespoons avocado (why?) or light olive oil

2 large white onions, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

200ml white wine (optional, but remember you will be cooking off the alcohol)

1.2l light chicken stock

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

400g fresh mushrooms,(chestnut/portobello) chopped

40g dried porcini


Start by soaking the porcini for 20 minutes or so in some freshly boiled water. Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees celcius, and make sure you have a baking tray to hand.

Get the chicken or vegetable stock nice and hot in a pan on top of your stove, and strain a little of the porcini soaking water into it- the more you add, the deeper a mushroom flavour you will give the stock.

Slice the fresh mushrooms to just less than 1cm in thickness, toss them in 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the thyme leaves, season with pepper, pop these onto the baking sheet and into the oven. You will need to check these as you go- perhaps turning once, they want to be golden brown with a little roasted mushroom colour, not dehydrated like the dried porcini started.

As finely as possible dice the onion, garlic and celery, add this to a large pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining thyme leaves, a good grind of black pepper and a little salt. Get it sweating and make sure the heat is low, you don’t want to colour the vegetables, just soften them. Keep stirring, and after they have turned translucent, 8-12 minutes or so, add the rice and turn the heat to medium.

Stir to coat the rice in the oily vegetables, and once the rice turns slightly opaque and starts popping and frying, add the wine and let it bubble down. Try not to let it catch.

Once the rice has sucked up all the wine (lucky rice), start adding the porcini scented stock, one ladle at a time, stirring after each ladlefull until the liquid is absorbed. This is the most important part of the cooking process as the slow constant stirring is effectively massaging the starch out of the rice grains and giving the creamy texture. (again, lucky rice).

While you are slowly adding the stock, add the soaked porcini to the rice mixture.  It should take 15-20 minutes of stirring, but keep testing the rice, you are looking for an al dente bite, not too soft (but if you are making this for babies or toddlers, I would suggest making this well cooked and soft).

For those that will appreciate the aesthetic appeal of it, serve the risotto when it’s ready topped with the roasted mushrooms, or simply mix them in.

Serve on warm plates, and for a cheffy touch, drizzle with a little vibrant green extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of parsley.

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Categories: Dairy Free Family Recipes, Real food for Babies, Summer Family Recipes

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