Not Your Mother’s Microwave Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Sunday August 28, 2016

Purists might declare this a travesty, but when time is of the essence, risotto made in the microwave is just one of those surprise modern technique substitutions that really works. I always love risotto, but often, especially on weeknights, I do not want to take the time to stand, chained to the stove, stirring and stirring for 45 minutes. I have in my mind to be eating in less than 30 minutes. The technique is precise, but very easy. The secret is of course to use the proper rice for risotto, the Arborio, which is a short grain white rice that makes a sort of sauce while it cooks, giving a sticky-like consistency, not dry like a pilaf, which is the hallmark of a good risotto. I also use a rice that is grown alongside the arborio, carnaroli, as well. This original recipe was created by Sam Gugino, who was my first food editor at the San Jose Mercury News in the late 1980s. He was, and still is, an inspired cook and food writer, bringing to the readership many wonderfully practical and enduring recipes and recommendations.

Cooking Method: Microwave Oven

Cook Time: About 26 minutes

Serves 4


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons minced shallots

1 1/2 cups raw Arborio or Carnaroli rice

3 3/4 cups hot low-sodium chicken broth

6-ounces fresh mushrooms of choice, sliced

12-ounces asparagus spears cut in 2-inch pieces on the diagonal

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Place the butter and oil in a deep 9-inch round or square microwave-safe dish. Heat, uncovered, for 2 minutes on high to melt and warm. Add the shallots and stir to coat; cook 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains; cook on high 2 minutes. Pour in the hot broth and cook 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and asparagus (mixture will undercooked and a bit soupy at this point); cook 8 minutes. Taste for texture (risotto should be tender and creamy yet at the same time chewy) and seasoning. If not tender, cook in 2 minute intervals, adding a tablespoon or two of broth if necessary. Remove the dish from the oven, stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2015, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

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