Shrimp, Mushroom and Zucchini Risotto

It’s about 8pm in Cincinnati and I am having a wonderful day thus far. The weather was absolutely gorgeous today, I made a delicious meal, and my husband offered to clean the kitchen for me.  Against my meticulous judgement when it comes to cleaning the kitchen, I let him… and he did a great job!

It was in the midst of constantly stirring the risotto that I homed in on how therapeutic cooking is for me.  Have you ever been by yourself in a moment when you realize you’re doing something you were naturally made to do? OK, yes, I understand I sound like a hippie walking out of a Phish concert, but It’s true! I was stirring the risotto and realized just how content I was.  As some of you may know, I call food “edible art”.  I’m quite sure that is a term I cannot patent and that everybody in their own sense thinks that way about food.  But have you ever considered just how important and influential it is for life’s most joyous moments? 
Two years ago I suffered through some serious stomach issues and ended up not being able to eat for a week straight so the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me. Did I mention that New Year’s Eve fell smack-dab in the middle of that one-week period?  It was horrible. I had no idea how much my life revolved around food until that week. Yes, I always knew I loved to eat. As Julia Child said “…I love to eat and I’m good at it!” Holidays however, are times when food is a staple within each hour and if you’re not eating, you’re drinking (pick your beverage of choice).  My family and friends were eating food and drinking champagne and beer while I on the other hand, drank Lipton soup.  All this to say, the entrance into 2011 was sub-par in my book.
I don’t say all that to complain. I say it to prove just how thankful I am for the gift and love of making art, I mean food, I mean art! Even if you’re only cooking for yourself, live it up and make it special! Set the table and forget about having to clean more or prepare more. You only live once so bask in the meals you’ve worked so hard to prepare, and remember, it’s a gift!
So I sit here now, sipping my Dundee dark stout beer and thinking about how delicious tonight’s meal was. I am a happy woman.
Ingredients                       Serves: 4-6                   Prep time: 15                Cook time: 40 minutes
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 long zucchini sliced into larger bite sized pieces (I did a thicker julienne cut)
8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
10 oz fresh shrimp with tails and shell removed (if purchased frozen, thaw them before cooking with them)
3 tbs unsalted butter
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay) 
1 tsp crushed rosemary 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbs salt
1 tbs black pepper, crushed
1. Melt butter and olive oil in a deep sautee pan over medium heat (butter for flavor, olive oil for cooking- it also prevents the butter from burning)
2. Add garlic and onion then begin stirring until the onions are translucent 
3. Add shrimp, white wine, rosemary, some salt and pepper to the pan. 
4. Let the shrimp cook for a few minutes while stirring every so often
5. Add the vegetables and continue to toss/stir 
6. Add the broth to the vegetables and bring it to a slight boil
7. Once it boils, turn down the heat low and place the arborio rice into a deep sauce pan over medium heat
8. Stir the Arborio rice continuously and slowly add a couple ladles full of broth from the pot with the vegetables and shrimp. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot because the rice is very sticky
9. Once you’ve used the last bit of broth and tasted the rice to be sure it is fully cooked, add the Parmesan cheese and stir one last time
10. Add the rice to the vegetables and shrimp and stir to mix everything together
11. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot!

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