This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our full Disclosure Policy for details.
Mushroom Caprese Risotto with Balsamic Shrimp: a traditional side dish is the star of the dinner table in this simple meal, bringing together the classic flavors of caprese, prosciutto, and shrimp in a creamy white wine risotto.
Can we talk about rice for a sec?
And how, in spite of being married to a rice-adoring Dominican, in almost a year of blogging here, I haven’t shared any recipes that include it?
What. the. hell.
I grew up in a very Polish & German-oriented household, and many a dinner consisted of a meat, a vegetable, and mashed potatoes with gravy. That’s just how Nana rolled in the kitchen.
Raised to love starches. Sounds like a bad song title.
Now that her kitchen is mine, the list of approved starches has grown to often include quinoa, pasta, legumes, and oatmeal. Potatoes still stand strong, but top billing now belongs to rice. And in celebration of that fact, I’m sharing my very unique take on a classic dish that stars the grain – Mushroom Caprese Risotto with Balsamic Shrimp.
This was my very first attempt at risotto.
I’m not sure what it was about the dish that intimidated me so much. It’s a very involved dish, and failing to pay close attention quickly ends in disaster. It might also have to do with the horrible rants I’ve seen Gordon Ramsay spout off about it. Seriously. If you aren’t familiar, just look him up on YouTube.
That lovable jackass crosses my mind plenty of times while cooking.
“What would Gordon say about the color of this steak?”
“Would Gordon like the flavor of this marinade?”
“What kind of sourpuss face would Gordon make at the consistency of this omelet?”
Don’t get the wrong idea. Knowing what a professional he is, and how strongly his opinions are valued in the dining world matter to me, but he’s not the be-all-end-all.
And he’s certainly not the only chef in the world who can make a great risotto.
Tal Ronnen, the famous vegan chef (and Oprah’s fave), has teamed up with The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas to create menus of vegan and vegetarian cuisine for every restaurant at the Wynn, which no doubt expanded their appeal to more Vegas visitors.
He’s so good at risotto, he developed unique versions of it for two of their restaurants, plus a bunch of other delicious sounding stuff (I could get down with vegan meatloaf. I mean hello, remember potatoes?)
I have yet to visit Vegas, and I’m in no way a vegan, but I was inspired just the same to take the mushroom risotto idea and put my own spin on it.
After much research, and much narrowing down of ingredients, I decided to stick with his base idea, but I knew I wanted to add a bit of protein to the finished product. I settled on the addition of shrimp, the elements of caprese, and a touch of prosciutto.
But how do you work a strong flavor like balsamic vinegar, essential to caprese, in to risotto without making the dish taste like balsamic vinegar?
The shrimp took the hit, which turned out to be a pretty tasty idea in and of itself.
The flavors of all the other elements I added ending up working really well together, as well. The tang of the tomatoes played nicely with the earthy mushrooms, the sweet basil and prosciutto paired well as final additions, and every risotto for forever on needs to include the stringy goodness of mozzarella.
In spite of me singing the praises of my new kitchen adventure results, believe me when I say I’m no risotto expert. The first time I made this, I only tasted it one time, and I took it off the heat a bit too early.
Which resulted in slightly too al dente risotto.
Which resulted in Mr. Crumby eating everything but the rice, because he has a “texture thing.”
Which resulted in a giant blow to my self-esteem. Boo.
Luckily, future attempts can always be improved. Don’t be like me, folks. Follow the recipe, and check out the things I did to avoiding making the same mistake twice with my caprese risotto.
1. Use Arborio or Carnaroli rice. Even if you never heard of them, I guarantee your local grocery store carries at least one. Basmati and Jasmine rice just won’t do risotto any justice.
2. Toast your rice (“tostatura”) with butter or oil before you add your liquid. Unless you really like rice oatmeal. Toasting helps keep the rice from absorbing the liquid too quickly, therefore keeping it from getting mushy.
3. Boil your broth, and keep it simmering as you cook your risotto. Add it in 1/2 cup increments, and keep in mind that you’ll probably use more than you think to get the right texture, so be sure to have enough ready to go. No one like al dente risotto.
4. Don’t be afraid of using too much wine. Pfft. There’s simply no such thing. A good dry white will make your risotto flavors pop! Splash some in with your broth if you like an even more pronounced wine flavor.
5. Don’t walk away from your risotto! It’s a very delicate process drumming up a perfect version, and chances are that if you run to catch a news segment or take a bathroom break, you’ll burn it. Don’t start cooking until you can dedicate a solid 20 minutes to standing next to your oven.
6. Taste your food! Chefs constantly try small bites of their food to make sure it’s coming along the way it should be. At about the 15 minute mark after you add your first cup of broth, start sampling your risotto. If it’s still crunchy, add more broth and continue to stir every couple of minutes. Bland? Dash in some salt and pepper, or your favorite seasonings.
Hungry for more seafood?
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 large shallot, dlced
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3-4 cups boiling hot vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped & divided
- 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- Balsamic Shrimp
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and washed
- Dash of salt
- Splash of white wine
- 1/4 cup prosciutto, chopped
- In a medium skillet over low heat, combine 1 Tablespoon each oil and butter and melt, stirring to blend.
- Add mushrooms. Saute 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the tomatoes, and feel free to add a splash of wine right before removing the skillet from the heat. Set aside.
- Keep a pot with your broth simmering in it nearby, as you must add boiling broth to the rice to cook it properly.
- In a large saute pan set over medium heat, heat the remaining butter and oil. When hot, add garlic and shallots to the pan and saute 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rice, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, so it can soak up all the fat from the butter and oil. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Add the white wine, and stir until it is almost all absorbed.
- Add 1 cup of broth and a pinch of salt, stirring constantly until it is fully absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth each time and stirring until desired doneness and creaminess is reached. The total process should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
- Add 2 Tablespoons basil, remaining salt, and pepper just before the final cup of broth is fully absorbed, then remove from heat when it’s done.
- Stir in mushroom-tomato mixture until well blended, then add diced mozzarella while it’s all still hot to help with melting.
- Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; when hot, add vinegar and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.
- Add the shrimp, salt, and splash of wine. Saute for 3-5 minutes until opaque in color, flipping shrimp as needed.
- Assemble risotto as above, then top with shrimp, prosciutto, and remaining basil. Serve & enjoy!