As we settle into the post holiday winter doldrums, all I can do is dream about the sun and summer in Italy. La dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, as the Italian expression goes, doesn’t seem to apply in the dead of winter.
I’ve tried meditation, but the last thing I need is more time to think about my problems. I’ve tried yoga, but the second to last thing I need is more time to think about my problems while stretching. Frankly, the most relaxed I’ve been recently is after I begrudgingly shoveled snow. A cold and sweaty hour later, I understood full well that “la dolce far niente” was created when work involved shovels and hoes, and not computers and blackberries.
I then settled into my version of la dolce far niente, which involved making a skillet of Risotto ai Porcini, with a glass of Barbera d’Alba in hand, and some good music in the background. And so I concluded: The sweetness of doing what you like is often better than the sweetness of doing nothing. And we don’t have to wait until summer for that.
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Rinse the mushrooms under cold water. Remove the base of the stem of the mushroom, and then wipe the remaining stem and cap with a clean, damp cloth (or paper towel ). Slice the mushrooms lengthwise into thin strips. (If using dried mushrooms, follow the package instructions to reconstitute them in water.)
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion. Cook until golden and then add the rice. Stir the rice for a couple of minutes until the butter is well absorbed. Heat the broth in a separate pan and keep warm. Add one ladle of the broth at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed. Repeat this process until all of the broth is absorbed, adding the mushrooms as described below.
In a another pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, stir in the garlic and when golden add the sliced mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as some of the vegetable broth if necessary to keep moist. Remove from heat. Mix in the chopped parsley.
When the rice is about five minutes from done, add the mushrooms. Add the final ladle of broth and finish cooking together. Remove from heat and mix in the Parmigiano. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano and fresh ground pepper.