It’s Madness! (And Mushroom Salmon Risotto)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks… you know that the first two weekends of the NCAA basketball tournament have come to a close.

It’s the most fascinating month of the year. A 12 seed beats a 2 seed. Loyalties are formed and broken in an instant. Being a traitor is somewhat acceptable, for the sake of your bracket. So many life concepts are just turned upside down. And it’s all for college basketball. Oh how I love it!

College basketball, college football, cars and handyman projects. These are my ‘man’ things. My poor dad had to have someone to tell about the wonders of horsepower … and in our family, that was me.

Whether you like basketball or not, it doesn’t matter …that’s the great thing about risotto it’s non-discriminatory. It’s dainty yet stick to your ribs delicious. Granted, it’s probably not the dish to make during an intense game. It takes some minor babysitting. Stirring, adding broth, stirring and repeat…. but you can neglect it a little more than the pros say and it still comes out fantastic.

Here’s how it goes:

Not shown here: Garlic (minced), Oil, Arborio Rice, Salmon, Tarragon, Basil, S&P, Cheese, and Broth

After sauteing the garlic and onion in oil. Add in the rice and cook for a few minutes with the onion. Then add the mushrooms and start adding broth one or two cups at a time until fully absorbed before adding some more broth. (See full instructions below.)

My biggest tip for making risotto? It’s the pot. A nice cast iron french oven bit. A Le Creuset type but there are so many less expensive / just as good options out there. Head to Macy’s or TJ Maxx and you can find a good 7 qt. pot for $40-70. It’s money well spent. I promise you.

It’s the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and veggies. Top it with curly cues of cheese, a little zest for color, put it on a pretty plate and you’re set. In the tournament of delicious, I would have advanced this dish all the way to the championship. (Sorry – I just couldn’t leave you without a super nerdy tournament reference.)

Mushroom Salmon Risotto

Serves 6-8 or More depending on serving size.


1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tbsp. Butter

1 Sweet Onion Chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves Minced

1 tsp. basil (dried)

1/2 to 3/4 tsp. tarragon (dried)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 small carton of Mushrooms – Sliced (probably like a cup and a half)

1 Lemon (Zest and Juice)

2 C. arborio rice

6-8 C. broth

6 Oz. Salmon, cooked and flaked. (I must admit, I used 2 cans… but fresh would be even better!)

About 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded/shaved Cheese (Mixture of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, etc.)


Heat oil and melt butter in a heavy bottomed pot. Add chopped onions and cook until just translucent, add garlic. After about a minute, add in mushroom and saute for a few minutes. Don’t cook all the way because the broth will help to finish them off. Add in both the basil and tarragon.

Then add in the arborio rice and stir. Let the rice toast and soak up the onion/mushroom flavors for 2-3 minutes. Start adding broth, one cup at a time. Stir occasionally. (My tip here is to add maybe 2 cups of broth or more so there’s is longer between additions and not quite as much babysitting. You will still want to make sure to stir every so often or it will stick to the bottom of the pan.)

Continue adding broth until the rice is softened. You’ll want to taste it… to make sure. Adding salt and pepper as needed. Add in the cheese and lemon zest with the risotto and squeeze in the lemon juice. Finally, add in the salmon and fold/stir in gently.

This can easily be a main dish but could also go as a side… just top with a little more zest and little extra cheese, of course!