Mushroom Bacon Risotto Recipe: A Warming Winter Dinner Idea (Plus Heart Healthy Bacon Alternatives)
Need a warming winter dinner idea? This easy mushroom bacon risotto recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners with family or a weekend dinner with friends. Plus easy and healthy alternatives to using bacon if you’ve made heart health a priority!
I’ve really been trying to eat healthier the past few months. My dad somehow miraculously avoid a heart attack at 72. However, he also had three heart surgeries over the course of a year. He’d been tired a lot and had been falling asleep when he’d sit down. Not being one to talk the doctor about his concerns, on top of having a super shitty primary care doctor, when he finally addressed what was going on, it wasn’t good. Tests revealed that one artery was completely blocked and another wasn’t far behind. When clearing out his arteries roto-rooter style at UVA didn’t fix the issues, he went back for stints. My parents didn’t even tell me about the third surgery. (My mom somehow thinks I’m fragile.) I heard about it, much later, through an off handed comment my brother made.
My family, on both sides, have a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So it’s a real concern for me, especially as I’m headed through my mid-forties. Luckily, I’m doing okay on both counts. However, I’ve tried to eat healthy and take care of myself. Unfortunately, the past two years were rather tumultuous for me emotionally. Like most things, this affected not just my emotional health, but my physical health as well. My energy levels and my weight both took a hit.
Not only did I change the situation I was in (and more than once) I also changed my eating habits. I stopped drinking gin and (high fructose corn syrup) tonic on the reg (to deal with chronic pain) and found a supplement regimen that worked for my fibromyalgia. I gave up the muscle relaxers I’ve used for years to cope after going cold turkey off pain killers and started taking valerian instead. Then I started eating better. I moved toward (or rather closer than I’ve ever been) a more vegetarian diet with fish, seafood and eggs – with meat only occasionally and very much in moderation. I started doing push ups and going dancing again. Basically I started living with intent rather than just existing.
Since doing these things, I’ve gone down 16 lbs. I look great and I feel better. My emotional state is much improved and my focus, though still wildly ADHD a few days a week, is better.
And yet, here I am, sharing a freaking mushroom risotto recipe – with bacon.
Bacon is delicious. Healthwise I’m totally okay with indulging every now and then. Friends and family make that practically a must on special occasions, holidays and dinner dates they host. Intellectually, I realize that pigs are pretty smart animals. As someone with a dog who I consider family, it does bother me that I enjoy pork as much as I do. So I try not to think about it for too long. But then, I remember that pigs can eat people and leave zero trace behind. That helps ease the guilt.
In the end, I’ve found there are more reasons not to eat pork than there are to gorge myself on a plate of baby back ribs. However, food, like most things in our lives, is a personal choice. Therefore, because I enjoy treating myself from time to time, this recipe has bacon. If, however, you’d like a healthier approach to my mushroom bacon risotto recipe, feel free to substitute the bacon for a healthier alternative.
Healthy Alternatives to Bacon for Mushroom Bacon Risotto
Bacon is delicious. Like all things, however, too much of anything can be a bad thing. Especially where heart health is concerned. So if you’ve given up beef and pork, have gone totally vegetarian, or are simply taking a break from bacon because it’s impossible not to overindulge, here are a few healthy alternatives for the bacon in my mushroom bacon risotto recipe.
Tempeh Bacon for Vegetarian Bacon Mushroom Risotto
Tempeh bacon is a vegetarian alternative to bacon. It contains less fat and has zero cholesterol. While traditionally made from slightly fermented soybeans, tempeh bacon can be made using any type of bean including black-eyed peas, black beans and chickpeas. Not only is tempeh bacon a good source of fiber, it’s also high in both vitamin B6 and magnesium. To prepare, simply slice then cook in oil over medium-high heat about four minutes each side.
Turkey Bacon for Healthier Bacon Mushroom Risotto
Turkey bacon is most definitely not bacon, but it’s not a bad substitute if you’re still eating meat. While still not totally healthy – I mean it IS still processed meat – it’s white meat rather than red meat. It also has HALF the amount of saturated fat as the real deal.
A similar alternative to turkey bacon is duck bacon. Just be aware that duck bacon doesn’t get quite as crispy as the real deal.
Vegetable Bacon for Heart Healthy Bacon Mushroom Risotto
Eggplant, and other veggies properly seasoned, can take on that smokey flavor you get from bacon. Simply add some smoked paprika, dried Chipotle chili peppers or a savory sweet sauce to your vegetable of choice then grill, smoke or roast. Additions such as fresh, grated parmesan cheese as garnish once the dish is plated can make up for the loss of the “beefier” bacon texture. To prepare a healthy alternative to bacon using eggplant, simply slice the eggplant then roast at 225°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until crispy. (You can learn how to make vegan eggplant bacon here.)
Tofu Bacon for Vegetarian Bacon Mushroom Risotto
Tofu bacon is another healthy alternative to bacon. It’s processed a bit more than tempeh bacon, however it’s high in protein. In addition, tofu bacon also contains all eight essential amino acids, and a notable amount of both calcium and iron.
To make it, you’ll need to start with really thin slices of tofu. (Otherwise you won’t get that bacon-like crunch.) Then marinate the tofu in a blend of 1 cup soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (you can freeze the rest in Tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray), 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s makes a vegan alternative), 2 Tablespoons maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons liquid smoke and 2 cups water. Mix to combine than marinate thinly sliced tofu at least four hours to overnight.
Once you’re ready to cook your bacon tofu, simply strain the tofu slices from the marinade. Then fry the tofu in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy. If desired, you can reserve the marinade for another veggie dish later.
Now that you know you can make substitutions for the bacon if desired, here’s my mushroom bacon risotto recipe. I hope you enjoy it in your very favorite way as an easy, warming winter dinner idea.
Mushroom Bacon Risotto Recipe
This creamy mushroom bacon risotto recipe is accented with the flavor of grated parmesan and fresh thyme. You can make this winter dinner idea healthier by either omitting the bacon called for in the recipe or by substituting it with one of the healthy alternatives to bacon, mentioned above.
1 ⅔ cup arborio rice
7 cups of warmed chicken or vegetable broth
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-4 Tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil, divided
½ to ¾ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
1.5 cups freshly chopped mushrooms of your choice
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons quality salt
5 pieces of very crispy (but not burnt) bacon (or bacon alternative)
2 Tablespoons of bacon fat to cook the mushrooms (or heart healthy olive oil)
Fresh ground black peppercorns
Begin by warming the chicken or vegetable broth in a medium sized pot. While the broth is warming, you’ll start a second pot on the stove.
In a separate medium-large pot, heat one tablespoon of either avocado or olive oil over medium heat. Then sauté the onions in the oil until fragrant. (Alternately you can also Continue to cook until the onions have browned.
Next, add two additional Tablespoons of oil to the pot with the sautéed onions. Then stir the rice into the pot of sautéd onions and oil.
Stir the rice for about a minute in the oil. (It will seem like a lot of oil to start, but it will help the rice cook.) After a minute, ladle in one cup of warm broth.
While the rice cooks, stir often. The more you stir the risotto, the creamier the final version of the mushroom bacon risotto dish you serve will end up being.
Once the rice shows signs of having absorbed the liquid, add a second cup of broth. Continue stirring the onion and risotto mixture, as in the previous step.
As the risotto is cooking, sauté the mushrooms in a nonstick pan with either bacon fat or olive oil and a couple sprigs of thyme. Once sautéed, set aside.
Continue adding more broth to the rice, stirring often. Partway through stir in the salt and add some fresh sage to the pot. I used one small sprig of fresh sage with about eight leaves on it.
The risotto is done cooking when the rice grains are plump, creamy and completely cooked through. At this point you no longer need to add additional broth. Instead, stir in most of the freshly grated parmesan cheese, while reserving the rest for plating.
Spoon the mushroom bacon risotto into bowls or plates for serving. The top the risotto with the crispy bacon or bacon alternative, sautéd mushrooms and additional parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, while stir warm.
If desired, you can serve this warming winter dish of mushroom bacon risotto with a light bodied glass of pinot noir. Enjoy!
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 650Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 167mgSodium: 1210mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 45g
More Warming Winter Dinner Ideas
If you enjoyed my mushroom bacon risotto recipe, then you may also like these other warming winter dinner ideas.
- White Chicken Chili Recipe with Quinoa
- Easy Crockpot Pork Tenderloin Recipe
- Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe
- Winter Vegetable Risotto Recipe
- Risotto Recipe with Butternut Squash, Leeks & Basil
- Creamy Barley Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach