I was trying to get some kitchen redesign done before the holidays. Mostly I just wanted to get this one wall painted. Blue. A pretty blue we’d picked out a year ago and never used.
But there’s still wallpaper in hard to reach spots – above cabinets, behind the refrigerator.
And it clashes – horrifically clashes – with my beautiful blue.
Which happens. When you buy something and don’t look at it for a whole year.
So everything in the kitchen is kind of a wreck at the moment. I’m going to go to the paint store today and take a look around. But what can go with this wallpaper?
I can’t do green because my living room is red and the whole house would look like Christmas. And I am not a pastel kind of lady.
Hmmm…. Terracotta… or some kind of earthy color. That’s not green.
Either way, the point remains that the kitchen is a disaster area, I have to get this situation sorted out, clean up a lot, AND start doing all of my Thanksgiving prep work. So easy one pan meals are a blessing and anything I can eat in a bowl while sitting on the couch is even better.
Risotto sounds like a lot of work, but if you understand the basics of it, it’s really not at all. It comes together very quickly and while you do have to keep an eye on it and stir it frequently, you won’t be stirring a pot of rice for 45 minutes or anything crazy.
It’s delicious. And you can make use of literally whatever is in your fridge at the moment.
Like a beautiful bunch of asparagus.
Risotto is an incredibly hearty dish, a little goes a long way on a plate. I’ve included variation notes for vegetarian and vegan versions of the dish.
I know when you read a risotto recipe, it seems like there’s so much to keep track of. You’re adding liquid by the 1/4 cup-fulls, you’re stirring, you’re making sure all of the ingredients go in at the right time. But really, you can just slow down and enjoy yourself. Because as long as you know to add liquid when you can scrape a trail through the pan and you taste your rice so you remove the pan from heat when the risotto is the proper consistency, you can’t go wrong.
Arborio Rice – 1 box
This is risotto rice. It has a high starch content that produces that chewy, creamy texture that makes risotto so spectacular. Carnaroli can also be used, but Arborio is the stuff you’re going to find in the supermarket. Don’t substitute regular rice, your consistency will not be right. Though if you had a lot of leftover rice on hand, you could certainly follow the end steps of the recipe to whip up a delicious meal. The directions on the back of the Arborio rice box are also useful to have on hand as a guide for making risotto. You can follow the directions for when to add liquid and how much to use and substitute whatever you’re using for the ingredients they’re using on the package.
2 Tbs Olive Oil
Liquid- 3-4 cups
Any combination of liquids will work. You can layer different broths and wines to infuse the dish with flavor. For this version I used the water that I re-hydrated the porcini in which really brings the earthy flavor of the mushrooms forward and I finished it off with chicken broth. If I had white wine on hand, I would have started the rice off with that, but I didn’t. If you do have some dry white on hand, pull some of that out, I’ll tell you where to add it in the directions below. Substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian/vegan version of the dish.
I used 1/2 an onion – finely diced
2 cloves garlic – minced or pressed
1 bunch asparagus chopped
1 package dried porcini mushrooms – re-hydrated, reserving the liquid used – probably about 1 1/2 cups of liquid
Feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Onion and garlic are always good base flavors. Things like carrots or butternut squash will have to get cooked a bit before going into the risotto, otherwise they won’t cook enough.
Grated Cheese – Parmesan or Pecorino Romano or a blend – 1/4-1/2 cup
I would use fresh, but the stuff from the shaker will work fine. If you grate it yourself, make sure you grate on the smallest grater so that way everything blends well and doesn’t clump. You can leave this out for a vegan version. I like using Pecorino because it’s sharper than Paremsan.
Some Extra Grated Cheese
- Prep all of your vegetables ahead of time. If you’re using things like carrots or butternut squash – anything that would need a long cooking time to be tender – pre-cook them at this time. Heat some oil and brown them in a pan, use some of your stock if necessary.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat your oil over medium-high heat.
- Add your onions and cook until they become translucent and begin to turn golden.
- Add your rice. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring around.
- Add garlic.
- Add some liquid – just a fine layer to get things going. This would be a good time to add your wine if you’re going to use it. About 1/4 cup.
- Add your cooking liquid from rehydrating the porcini. You want the rice to be completely covered, so if you need more liquid, just add some of your stock.
- Cook, stirring occassionally until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Add your asparagus and mushrooms (or other vegetable of choice). (The arborio rice box that I had said to blanch asparagus before using it. I completely disagree unless you want really soft asparagus. Doing it this way cooks the asparagus perfectly so they’re tender but still have a pleasing crunch.)
- Add liquid as you need it from here on out. If you want to measure it out, I would say a good ladle-full or about 1/3 a cup at a time. Really you just want to keep everything hydrated until the rice is done cooking. If you stir and scrape a trail through the pan and don’t see any liquid remaining behind the spoon, add some more liquid. If things look sticky. Add some liquid.
- I like my risotto al dente, so I just tasted it until the rice was tender and a pleasing chewy firmness. If you want everything softer, just cook for a few minutes longer, tasting until it reaches the proper consistency.
- Mix in your grated cheese.
- Plate, garnish, and serve.
Leftover risotto is excellent and is great reheated with some broth or water or just eaten cold out of the fridge. Enjoy!