December 3, 2013 8

Creamy Mushroom Kale Risotto + Exploring Italy Part I: Bologna

Bologna is rarely the city people think about while conjuring up their Italian vacation plans. Most people are just too busy lusting over the rolling hills of Tuscany or imagining the sea breeze of Capri carrying through their hair.

Well Bologna is totally and utterly just as magical as the rest of the beautiful country and you can find this enchanted medieval city just north of the Apennine Mountains and just about 2 hours southeast of Milan.

Bologna is capital to the Emilia Romagna region and nicknamed, La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa. Translating to The Learned, home to Bologna University, the oldest continuously running university; The Red because of its strikingly beautiful red roofs and The Fat, boosting itself as the culinary heart of Italy and home to classic Italian dishes such as Tortellini en Brodo and Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese or a simple bowl or risotto {like the one I’ve made for you – jump down to the bottom of the page to get the recipe}. Both of which I easily found gluten free versions of and they were so delicious that my non-GF husband actually preferred them to the traditional flour ones he ordered.

Okay little detour here . . . Italians take celiac disease seriously. Real seriously and they have been doing this for decades. My friends and family members are always shocked when I tell them how easy it was for me to eat my little heart out while in Italy. So here’s the scoop, Italians test all children for the autoimmune disease by the time they are 6 years old. Italians with celiac disease get a monthly dining stipend because the government recognizes how much more gluten free foods can cost. Pharmacies are stocked with GF pastas and breads and restaurants know exactly what you mean when you ask them if something is senza glutine. They don’t just stare blankly or roll their eyes at you for being difficult. You are not treated like a pain in the ass, you are treated like everyone else and they are happy to do it. That was one of the best parts of traveling there for me. It was never taken lightly and I never fell ill. I did happen to get a few cankersores {one of my trademark symptoms of being glutened} but I can only attribute this to all the eating out I did over the 8 days and the inevitable cross-contamination of some kind. If you’re traveling to Italy, get more of the gluten free scoop here: Italian Celiac Association.








I’ve been lucky enough to visit this city twice in the past few years. I married a Bolognese man so I don’t have much say in the matter. But I happily oblige and I dream about my return. Heck perhaps even a move. Now that wouldn’t be so crazy, would it? Jumpin’ ship and sailing off to a whole new world of wonder, full of cappuccinos and classic Bolognese dishes. Sounds pretty much perfect.

Bologna isn’t just a city full of amazing food, vibrant jazz cafes and endless streams of college students at every twist and turn {of the city} reminding you that in fact they are the heartbeat of that town. Bologna is a big piece of my husband’s heart. A place he travelled to every summer as a young boy and a place I am honored to now call an extension of my heart. Bologna is home to my husband’s 98 year old nonna, my mother in law, Paola, my aunt, Zia Vana and our cousins, Cristina + Claudio. They are the ones that make Bologna so special and our last visit there a visit of a lifetime. One that I’ll never, ever forget.

Our days in Bologna started off with cappuccino, yep, everyday. Something I rarely do in my regular life, but on a Italian holiday, it’s just plain essential. Then wandering through the city streets on foot exploring and discovering all beauty Bologna has to offer. The squares, sculptures, murals, parks, canals and vintage stores {can you say holy wow – the most amazing prop shopping ever!}, each one more beautiful than the next. And rounding off each day with a leisurely family meal. Full bellies, warm hearts and {finally} a little slice of peace. That feeling you get that runs so deep that you can sit around a dinner table for hours, understanding minimal Italian and still feeling so satisfied with the mutual love, these are the words that don’t need to be spoken.










I hope you enjoyed these photos of my trip, my family + my food. Sometimes you have to forget about the rules, forget about saving every last penny. It’s good to take risks, to travel when your heart tells you it’s time and not when your bank account is saying “no, definitely do not do this now”. There is no time quite like the present, so dig in folks and make your dreams come true.

I am so lucky, I am so blessed. Life is short and life is good; go relish in it.


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Creamy Mushroom Kale Risotto

{serves 4 – 6}


  • 1 1/2 cups of aborio rice
  • 5-6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons of olive or avocado oil {ghee is fantastic also if you not making this vegan}
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 packed cup shredded Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 4 hours
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, or your preferred milk
  • sea salt and coarse ground pepper, to taste
  • grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to top, totally optional

In a large saute pan heat the oil over a low flame. Add in the shallots and cook until they start to turn translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the rice and mushrooms, saute for about 5 minutes or until you see a light halo surrounding each kernel.

In a medium pan, heat the vegetable stock. You will slowly add the stock, cup by cup to the rice. Ladle 1 cup of the liquid into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step, adding 1 cup of liquid at a time until the rice is cooked through but still a tad firm.  This will take about 35-45 minutes total. You may not need to use all of the liquid or you may need to use a little more, just keep adding until you get a loose and creamy texture.

While your rice is cooking you can prepare your cashew cream. Blend together the cashews, almond milk and pinch of sea salt. This yields approximately 1/2 cup of liquid {if you wanted to use real cream here instead of the cashews, go ahead}.

Just as your rice is about to finish cooking, add in your kale. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Then add in your cashew cream, stir well and serve hot.

8 Responses to "Creamy Mushroom Kale Risotto + Exploring Italy Part I: Bologna"

  1. Reply

    dishing up the dirt

    December 5, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Absolutely loved looking at your photos! Life really is too short to not live in the present. Always follow your heart! This mushroom and kale risotto is right up my ally. Love it!

    • Reply


      December 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      Thanks my friend, I love when you stop by <3

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  3. Reply


    April 2, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Wow….I must try your risotto. It looks so yummy and the photos just look awesome… Thank you for sharing…. Ciao! :)

    • Reply


      April 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Thanks Anna! I appreciate that <3

  4. Reply


    July 30, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing – your story, your family and of course, your food! Your post is well written, interesting and stirred something deep inside, almost moving me to tears.

    Your grounded outlook and genuine gratitude is a beautiful thing to witness. I congratulate you and wish you and your family all the very best for the future.

    p.s. loved the photos, especially the family shots… Nonna looks amazing!
    p.p.s your recipe inspired my own risotto and it was absolutely delish!!

    Thank you!

    • Reply


      August 3, 2014 at 3:35 PM


      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words while enjoying both the photos + the recipe. It means so much to me and it means even more to me for you to leave me such a heart-felt comment. Stop back soon!!

      SHERRIE :))

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