11/8 2012

Simple Vegetable Risotto

Whenever it is risotto night, I usually defer to my husband, Rob. He has far more patience than I to stand at the stove and stir for 45 minutes. As I mention in EAT IN NOT OUT, my Type A friends and I tend to prefer instant gratification. Risotto is not exactly that.

What is risotto?

Risotto is an Italian rice dish.

I used to think risotto was horribly unhealthy because of its creamy consistency! But not all creamy sauces are created equally. In fact, this creamy sauce is created as the broth cooks the starchiness out of the  rice.

You heard right. Most risottos are prepared by cooking rice in a stock – slowly, over the course of about 30-45 minutes, by stirring, stirring, and stirring some more.

Forcing the issue

A few weeks ago, my husband was on point for risotto duty, but one of the presidential debates happened to be on TV. Being a person who struggles with multi-tasking, I told him to get out of the kitchen and go watch politics while I cooked.

I’m proud to say that I enjoyed the experience! I found the stirring and cooking to be relaxing (and admittedly, the wine helped).

The Overview

Making risotto was so much easier than I had originally thought.

Step 1. Saute rice with either onions, shallots, or garlic – or a combination of these.

Step 2. Deglaze pan with wine.

Step 3. Add vegetable or chicken broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring, until absorbed. Usually, it takes 30-45 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Step 4. Add veggies of your choice (either personal preference or what’s in season) and Parmesan cheese.

So how hard is that?

The specifics

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of dry arborio rice
  • 1 TBSP butter or olive oil
  • 1-2 TBSP minced shallots (note: you can substitute 1/2 cup+ of onion and a little more garlic)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or more!)
  • 2 cups fresh, chopped spinach
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • (Optional: 1/4 cup of prosciutto, diced)

Directions:

First, prep all ingredients that need to be chopped and minced. This will make your life easier and less stressful later, when you’re stirring (and drinking a glass of wine).

Saute the garlic and shallots in olive oil or butter for a few minutes then add the rice. Stir another minute, then add the wine. Deglaze the pan until rice has absorbed the wine (another minute or so), then start adding the broth in 1/2 cup increments. You don’t need to stir constantly, but frequently. Stove top temperature should be low enough that the broth simmers (not boils over).  This will take 30-45 minutes. Be sure to taste test for doneness.

When rice is cooked, add veggies and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Note: All depending on the vegetables you use, you may wish to stir fry some of them in advance. For example, peas and spinach cook instantaneously and can be directly added to rice, but asparagus needs extra time. If you use another bean or even squash, you’ll want to cook beforehand by stir frying in a small amount of olive oil).

If you want a salty, meaty touch, you can saute some prosciutto until it’s crispy and sprinkle on top.

Other recipes

Here are a few other recipes that sounded tasty:

Real Simple: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/creamy-parmesan-risotto-10000001038780/index.html

Jamie Oliver: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/risotto/basic-risotto-recipe

Chowhound: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/288918

Foodista (lots of great ones here): http://www.foodista.com/blog/2011/07/07/10-best-risotto-recipes#

Smitten Kitchen (this one’s made with tomatoes): http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/11/alexs-restaurant/

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