Maybe a long distance relationship could work, afterall?
Aside from Barney Butter and my mouth, there isn’t a better combination than caramelized onions and sautéed Cremini mushrooms. Before I taught myself how to cook, I would have told you there is no better combination than canned mushrooms and pizza sauce, but luckily, I have branched out a bit and discovered a love for things that do not come in a can.
[For the record, I will forever love canned mushrooms. I just can’t help myself!]
Anyways, when I stumbled upon this Vegan Mushroom Risotto recipe over at The Kitchn, I had to compose myself until I could get to the grocery store for the ingredients. My heart was all a flutter and it filled my every thought. I even found myself obsessively glancing at the picture to make sure it looked as good as I remembered.
I bought some local Cremini mushrooms, fresh and perfect…
It is a good day.
It is not a good day for Eric because he will not touch a mushroom with a ten foot pole! He really doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.
I married him despite this.
To be honest, I’m pretty happy to have this dish all to myself. It is quite a bit of work to make and the fact that I got to enjoy it for a few meals was a nice reward. Sharing is overrated, anyways. If your partner does enjoy mushrooms though, this would be a fun meal to make together! And if you are like me, you will ask the man to do all the prep work that you loathe, like chopping onions and garlic.
I’m just nice like that I guess.
Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions
Thick, rich, and satisfying with a strong mushroom flavour and pop of sweetness from the caramelized onions. This is pure comfort food.
Adapted from: The Kitchn.
Yield: 2 (as main course), or 4 side servings
- 3-4 yellow onions, divided
- 1 tbsp + 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms (~455 grams), washed and sliced
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 cup uncooked pot barley (or grain of choice, like rice)* see note
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3.5 cups vegetable broth (I used full-sodium), *see note
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to garnish
- 1 tbsp Earth balance or butter, to stir in (optional)
1. Chop 2 small yellow onions to make 2 cups worth. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onion for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to avoid burning.
2. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add all the sliced cremini mushrooms to the skillet and let them cook for 5-10 minutes.
3. Add the rosemary sprig and seasonings to the skillet. Stir well. Cook for a couple minutes. Now add in the barley (or rice), balsamic vinegar, and vegetable broth gradually as it cooks. You may have to adjust the amount of liquid used depending on the type of grain used. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and stir every few minutes, reducing the heat when necessary to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Be careful because it will burn fast!
4. Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cut 1-2 yellow onions 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 brown, for about 30 minutes. Watch closely. I burned some of mine because I got distracted by shiny objects. It happens.
5. When the risotto has finished cooking remove rosemary sprig and stir in a spoonful of Earth balance or butter if desired. Distribute into bowl and top each bowl with a spoonful of caramelized onions and freshly ground pepper. Serves 2-4.
Note: Make sure that you add the vegetable broth slowly as different grains will absorb different amounts of liquid. You don’t want too much liquid at the end!
The changes I made to the original recipe are the following:
- I used barley instead of white rice
- I used 1 pound of Cremini mushrooms instead of 1/2 pound
- I used 3 cloves garlic instead of 4
- I used 3.5 cups liquid veggie broth instead of 2 cups (I had to adjust for the barley)
- I omitted the white wine as I didn’t have any
- I used 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar instead of 2
- I cut the oil down
- I did not use vegan cream cheese
- I changed the procedure (the original recipe calls for baking in the oven!)
It still turned out incredible despite the changes!
I think next time I will try pearled barley because the pot barley seems to give me stomach pains (hard to digest with the outer husk!).
Make sure that you add the vegetable broth slowly as different grains will absorb different amounts of liquid. You will basically have to eyeball it as it cooks and add more liquid as needed. If you are using white rice, you might only need 2-2.5 cups of vegetable broth.
Rinse the dirty lil buggers!
Chop 2 small onions and 3 cloves garlic.
Add in sliced mushrooms, and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Add in seasonings…salt, rosemary sprig, pepper.
Now add in the 1 cup of grains and the vegetable broth…gradually.
Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring often and adding more vegetable broth when necessary so it doesn’t burn. If it starts drying out, you need more liquid!
Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions…mmm.
Watch the onions closely…I burned some of mine because I got distracted by shiny objects. It happens.
When the risotto is ready, stir a spoonful of Earth Balance (or butter) in and serve immediately.
This recipe takes about 45 minutes of active prep work and another 20-25 minutes to cook. It is quite labourious, but if you make it with someone else it will go much faster!
Top with lots of caramelized onions.
When I took my first bite, I forgot about all the chopping and stirring and I said, Yup, it was all worth it.
It is thick, rich, and satisfying with a strong mushroom flavour and pop of sweetness from the caramelized onions. C-O-M-F-O-R-T-F-O-O-D.
You should also check out the original recipe by The Kitchn’s Faith Durand– it was baked in the oven! I may have to try this next time, but since I didn’t use white rice I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I made it the traditional way on the stove top just to be safe. If you guys experiment with baking different grains let me know. I’m hoping a quicker cooking brown rice works too!
What food combinations do you LOVE to pair together?