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When Eat to Beat Disease author Dr. William Li received Rach's book, This Must Be the Place, he immediately went through it to find recipes that he wanted to cook during the holidays and that contained healthy ingredients. By the end, the book had lots of sticky notes poking out of it! One of his favorite recipes is this risotto, which he says is so easy and so good. "It's not only good for the body," he adds, "it's good for the brain as well." Porcini mushrooms, for instance, contain a soluble dietary fiber that's been proven to reduce anxiety. And spinach promotes better blood flow to the brain, which is really important for our cognition.  

Click here for more information from Dr. Li about "superfood" holiday ingredients.

For two of Dr. Li's own healthy recipes, check out his Longevity Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Capers, Sardines + Lemon and Chicken Basil Stir-Fry.


  • 6 cups vegetable stock, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought
  • 1 cup dried sliced porcini mushrooms
  • 1 ½ pounds spinach or chard, tough ends trimmed, stems separated from leaves
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 onion or 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio, Carnaroli, or other short-grain rice
  • 1 cup white wine (crisp, not oaky or too sweet)
  • 1 cup loosely packed semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted in the oven or small skillet
For the Vegetable Stock:
  • 1 bulb garlic, halved horizontally
  • 2 carrots, coarsely cut
  • 2 ribs celery with tops, coarsely cut
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 bulb fennel, quartered
  • 1 leek, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Bundle of thyme, sage, and parsley stems
  • A few slices of lemon
  • EVOO


Serves: 4


In a saucepot, heat the stock and porcini over medium heat to reconstitute mushrooms, about 20 minutes. Remove the porcini and chop. Reserve stock. 

Finely chop the stems and chop the leaves of the spinach or chard and keep them separate. 

In a risotto pot (wide, round-bottomed pan) or deep skillet, heat the EVOO (three turns of the pan) over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, stems, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Soften a couple of minutes, then add the rice and stir a minute more. Add the wine and let it absorb. Add a few ladles of reserved stock and stir vigorously. Continue to add stock every few minutes and continue to stir. (Do not use last few spoons of stock, as grit may collect at the bottom.) 

Risotto will take about 18 minutes from first addition of wine and liquids. 

Stir in the semi-dried tomatoes. During the last 5 minutes, add the chopped greens in bunches, letting each bunch wilt before adding the next. Add the nutmeg and porcini and melt in the butter and pecorino. Add the walnuts in the last minute. 

Serve the risotto in shallow bowls and pass extra cheese. 

For the vegetable stock, preheat the oven to 400°F. 

In a pot, combine the garlic, carrots, celery, onion, fennel, leek, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, herb bundle, and lemon slices. Coat with oil, roast 12 to 15 minutes to soften. Add about 3 quarts water, move pot to stovetop over medium heat, and simmer 60 minutes. Let cool, then strain. 

Excerpted from This Must Be the Place by Rachael Ray. Copyright © 2021 by Rachael Ray. Used with permission by Ballantine Books. All rights reserved.