Black rice has been called the “healthiest rice in the world.” Its deep purple color comes from the same anti-inflammatory antioxidants that give blueberries their rich color: anthocyanins. Finding ways to eat more anthocyanins is a key component of any anti-inflammatory diet. I’m used to seeing black rice in Asian cuisine — particularly as a Thai dessert usually called “purple sticky rice” — so I was intrigued when I came across a risotto recipe using black rice instead of the traditional Italian arborio rice. When I showed the recipe to the Midwestern Gentleman, he reminded me that risotto is the first dish I ever cooked for him, a few days after we started dating.
I boosted the anti-inflammatory factor of this dish by slightly increasing the amount of olive oil and herbs, choosing red onion over others (anthocyanins again!), and adding a few cloves of garlic. Brown mushrooms are a nutritious, low-calorie way to balance out the dish’s starch with more vegetable matter. Make sure to choose brown mushrooms over white button mushrooms, which have only a fraction of the vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds of their brown cousins. This flavorful risotto makes a great main course accompanied by a spinach salad.
Black Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Basil
(modified from Ellie Krieger’s Black Rice Risotto)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. brown mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups black rice
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup fresh basil, shredded, plus more for garnish
Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring, another few minutes. Push the mushrooms and onions off to the side of the pot and add another 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the bare spot you cleared on the bottom of the pot. Add the black rice and stir until it is well coated with oil, about 1 minute. Stir everything in the pot together. Add 1/2 cup white wine and cook, stirring, until most of the wine has evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
Meanwhile, pour as much of the broth as will fit into a Pyrex glass measuring pitcher and microwave it until hot. (Mine holds 2 cups, and I microwave it for 2 1/2 minutes on HIGH.) Add the broth 3/4 cup at a time to the rice, stirring constantly, and cooking slowly until most of the liquid has evaporated. Repeat the process of heating the broth, adding it in increments to the pot, and stirring constantly until all of the broth has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still slightly firm to the bite (“al dente”). This process takes close to an hour, so put on some good music and try to relax into a semi-meditative state!
Remove the risotto pot from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/3 cup shredded fresh basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Portion out the risotto into dishes and garnish with additional parmesan and basil, if desired. Serves 4 as a main course.