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Friday, June 4, 2010

Basic Veggie Risotto

I make this for our family on a semi-regular basis, since it's a big hit with the kids and is adaptable to what we have on hand. Many recipes for risotto recommend constant stirring, but I never understood why that was until I tried making it in a non-nonstick pan. If you're lazy like I am, skip the fancy risotto pan and stick with the nonstick skillet.
Basic Veggie Risotto

1-2 T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 1/2-2 C arborio rice (or whatever your family needs)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
large pinch saffron threads, crushed
1/2 C dry white wine, if you have it
6-8 C low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (this time I used the leftover strained pan juices from the French Roast Chicken in a Pot we had a few days earlier, about a cup diluted with water to make a quart of broth)
vegetables of your choice, steamed until just tender (this time I used carrots, broccoli, kale, asparagus and peas)
a few ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1-3 T unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Put olive oil and garlic into large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat until garlic just starts to sizzle (don't let it get brown; browned garlic gives a bitter flavor).



Add rice to pan with 3/4 t or so of the kosher salt and a good amount of freshly-ground black pepper. Stir for a few minutes, until rice grains are translucent with white centers and make a sound like wet sand when stirred.


If using wine, add it now, along with saffron threads. Cook until wine is mostly absorbed and alcohol smell has dissipated, then add broth to cover, stirring well. Keep stirring occasionally, making sure rice is cooking evenly, and adding additional broth (and perhaps a little salt) as needed.



While rice is cooking, steam veggies until just tender, starting with the carrots, which take longest to cook. When veggies are done, remove from pan so they don't keep cooking while they wait for the rice to finish.




Rice is done when kernels no longer have hard centers and the mixture seems creamy (from the starch the rice has given off while it cooks). It should be a little looser than you want it to end up, as the rice will continue to absorb liquid as it cools. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese, then fold in the vegetables (I put in the peas while still frozen, which helps cool the risotto to kid-edible).


Adjust seasonings, let rest for just a couple of minutes, then serve.

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