This is a different type of risotto that most people would not have seen before. The usual colours of risotto dishes seem to be yellow, orange (i.e. butternut squash based) or red (i.e. tomato based). For this dish, I was inspired by the two portabello mushrooms that were in my fridge. I knew that if I cooked with the black gills of the mushroom that my dish would turn black, so I figured why not purposely use that colour to my advantage. Then I started thinking of different flavourful dark coloured ingredients that I could use to further enhance the colour. I'm not one to do colour theme dishes but I just couldn't help myself with this one. The mushrooms brought out the earthiness in the dish and the tomato pesto and balsamic vinegar really created that extra depth of flavour. This one might raise an eyebrow with some but give it a try you just might be pleasantly surprised!

Serves 2 generously


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup rice (I used white long grain but use arborio if you want to stay traditional)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock (or substitute vegetable stock)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp tomato pesto (pre-made) or use sundried tomato pesto
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 2 large handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

1. In a saucepan, gently heat the 4 cups of chicken stock and the 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Once you start to see the stock bubble turn off the heat. Put in a ladle so it'll be easier to pour the stock into the risotto later on.

2. Preheat a deep shallow pan on medium heat. Drizzle in 2 tbsp olive oil and add in the chopped onion and garlic. Make sure to season with salt and pepper. Saute for 1 minute until the onions are transclucent, then while constantly stirring add in the rice and lightly toast it for 2 minutes.

3. Pour in 1/2 cup of red wine and stir until you start to see it evaporate. Then add in one ladle full of the warm chicken stock and keep stirring the rice. When you see the stock evaporate than add another ladle full of stock. Continue this step until the very last ladle.

4. When you get to the final ladle, add in the sliced portabello mushrooms and the diced red pepper. Sprinkle a pinch of salt to help draw out the mushroom juices onto the rice. Stir for another 2 minutes then add in the final ladle, along with 3 tbsp of tomato pesto.

5. Once the final ladle of stock evaporates then turn off the heat. Stir in 2 tbsp of butter along with 2 large handfuls of Parmesan cheese and the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Cook's Note: You will notice that when you add in the red wine the rice turns a dark purple colour, there is no need to panic because the other layers of ingredients will change the colour even deeper.

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