Alice Bilyk | Daily Nexus

Risotto is romantic. Red wine is romantic. Why not put the two together this Valentine’s Day? Luxurious, rich flavors are always what I look for when cooking for the people I love, and this recipe delivers that without much effort. The secret? A tablespoon of miso. The umami of the miso turns an already delicious dish into an I’m-going-to-lick-the-plate-clean type meal. Risotto has a reputation for being a tough dish to get right, but with a few tricks, it’s rather simple. 

To make this recipe extra Valentine’s day-themed, I’m co-authoring it with my girlfriend, Alice. We cook dinner together as often as we can— it’s our way of expressing love for each other at the end of a long, tiring day. A way to make time for the two of us. This is a recipe we came up with together a few months ago that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, not just because it’s pink, but because nothing says “I love you” like sharing a delicious meal. 


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ pound mushrooms, sliced (I used half chanterelle, half shitake)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, for garnish
  • a few sprigs of thyme, for garnish


  1. Fill a serving bowl with hot water. Let it sit, warming up, replacing the water if it gets cool, for the duration of cooking.  
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for around 10 minutes, until browned. Season with salt to taste. 
  3. Remove the mushrooms and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Sweat the shallot until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the rice and toast for 1 to 2 minutes. It’s ready when it starts to smell like popcorn. 
  5. Add in the wine, bring to a simmer and stir until absorbed
  6. Add in the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally until risotto has a loose, almost soupy texture. 
  7. Add the mushrooms back in, reserving a few for garnish. The temperature of the mushrooms, which have cooled down a little, will cause the risotto to thicken up to the perfect texture: thick and creamy, but not dry. If the risotto looks dry, add water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. Pour the water out of the serving dish and wipe it dry. Ladle in the risotto, then garnish with the mushrooms, thyme and smoked paprika. Enjoy!

This stuff is slap-the-table, holy shit! good. Make sure to use a red wine you enjoy drinking, as it’s a prominent flavor in this dish. If you want it extra creamy, feel free to add some parmesan. However, the two tricks used in this recipe (heating the serving dish, slightly undercooking the risotto) will produce an unctuous, luxurious risotto no matter what. No need for any dairy — or dairy-related discomforts — this Valentine’s day; just a lovely meal with lovely company. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the February 10, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus