Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Mushroom Risotto with Pine Nuts

It's WHB #224 and WE are hosting this edition of Weekend Herb BloggingHere's a quick summary of the rules, if you are interested in this weekly activity. I am immensely excited as the entries for this week comes flowing in.

Focus of this week will be the pine nuts.  Pine nuts comes from the seeds of various species of pine trees, generally in Mexico, southwestern US and Europe with Spain and Italy the world's top producers. A single pine cone contains hundreds of seeds but the cones needs to be heated to open and loosen the nuts. Thereafter the hull protecting each individual nuts must to cracked open to obtain the individual nuts which explains the high cost of pine nuts. (It sells for SGD5-7 per 100grams here in Singapore.)

Aren't they beautiful? Pine nuts contain 24 grams of protein for every 100 grams and provide one of the most protein among nuts or seeds. They are also an excellent source of vitamins B1 and B3, and trace metals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium etc... They are believed to help produce a strong and healthy heartbeat, lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. 

Taste-wise, the pine nuts releases a buttery taste when bitten into with a hint of spice, which taste very like thyme. The nutty aroma follows as the nut is chewed further into. They can be taken raw as snacks or added to salads or rice dishes to provide volume or supplement protein intake. Roasting pine nuts prior to topping meat dishes will greatly intensify their flavour.

I used pine nuts in my risotto and viola! It added crunch and texture to the creamy risotto and added depth to the taste!

Mushrooom Risotto with Pine Nuts.

(adapted from Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe)

You will need: (Serves 2)

400ml chicken stock
40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
handful pine nuts
2 portobello mushrooms, diced
125g risotto rice
1 glass white wine
salt, grounded black pepper
40g freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in oilve oil. Soften the onion, garlic and celery in the pan with the oil and melted butter on low heat.

2. Add in the rice when the vegetables soften and lightly fry, on medium heat. Keep stirring. Once the rice looks transluscent, add the wine.

3. Once the wine had cooked into the grains, turn down the heat to low to prevent overcooking the grains on the surface with the center still hard. Add in the first ladle of stock together with a good pinch of salt. Continue stirring to massage the starch out of the risotto. Add stock ladle by ladle while stirring making sure each ladle of stock is absorbed before adding the next.

4. Cooked till the risotto is soft but with a slight bite when bitten into. (If you run out of stock before this stage, just add hot water.)

5. Stir in the diced mushrooms, stir to mix well.

6. Turn off heat and add in shredded cheese and pine nuts. Mix well. Cover the pot/pan. The risotto will turn super creamy in the next couple of minutes.

7. Serve as soon as possible.

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