Some strange hybrid of stomach flu/actual flu hit our house and wow, was that fun and exciting. With GI issues, our doctor was recommending the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). But that gets boring quickly, and my dad is a food snob, so I decided to mix things up with an easy, herby risotto.
With mostly pantry ingredients, this dish is surprisingly easy and can be a great backdrop to almost any ingredient, making it flexible and versatile.
For this, I’ve used a base of garlic and onion.
Saute diced onion in a tablespoon of oil or butter (I like to use both for flavor and because your increase the smoke point (meaning it’s harder to burn). After 4-5 minutes, when the onions are nice and translucent, add minced garlic and sauce together for 30-45 seconds, until garlic is fragrant–but don’t burn it!
Add one of those baby bottles of white wine to deglaze the pot scraping up any browned bits from the bottom and sides.
Fond: The brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Scrape this up and stir into your meal for maximum flavor–don’t worry, it dissolves.
Boil for a couple minutes until reduced by half, and add in arborio rice. You can’t really make a quality risotto without this. The starchiness of this particular type gives you the most creamy, smooth risotto, and it’s so easy to get at any major store these days.
Add about 1 cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to really get the starches on the arborio to let go.
You can keep a small pot of stock simmering on the stove, but my favorite way is to pour it into an electric tea kettle (yes, the same one I make tea with or boil water quickly for pasta!). It is much faster and cleaner this way.
Keep stirring the rice to allow the stock to absorb.
Meanwhile I finely slice green onions.
I don’t put these in toward the end or they will cook up and become wilty, even brown–that doesn’t look or taste good!
I also chop up whatever fresh herbs from the fridge or garden–in this case, parsley, cilantro and a little sprig of dill.
Keep adding 1/2 cup of stock at a time, stirring until the stock is absorbed by your rice and looks like this.
For some acidity and punch, I grate up about half a lemon’s worth of zest.
Once your risotto is done (about 20 minutes; the rice should be soft but have a slight bite to it), I add salt and pepper, grated parmesan (pecorino works great), lemon zest and herbs (reserving some green onions back for garnish).
I stir it in, and add some cream, half and half or whole milk to thin it out to my desired consistency (like a thick oatmeal). Remove from heat.
Garnish with a couple of green onions and roasted pine nuts, for some crunch and texture, and you have a creamy, belly warming risotto that anyone will enjoy.
Make it a #Semi_Handmade meal:
- Top Roasted Shrimp. Find this pre-made the deli section of your grocery store.
- Add Garden Peas. Frozen peas works well too. It’s a bright and sweet addition. Just stir them in frozen at the same time as your herbs.
- Toast up Crostini. Slice whatever bread you have on the bias, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper, and toast it up.
- Char some Chicken. Grill simple salt and pepper chicken (okay, add some of that lemon zest-I couldn’t help myself either, slice and top for a salty, smoky meal.
- Roasted Chick Peas. This is a new addiction of mine. I love to add these on the top for crunch and to keep it nut free, adding a high protein punch. Find these in your grocery store.
- Keep it Vegan. Skip the cream and parmesan and add a little extra veggie stock, ground cashews or even tahini for that similar nutty note.
The next day, take your leftover risotto and you can use it in so many ways!
- Just Add Water. Your risotto will firm up into an unappealing glop. Just add water or stock and heat it up (stovetop or microwave) and you have Round 2.
- Risotto Cakes. Mix with a beaten egg, bread crumbs, roll into balls, chill for a couple minutes and pan fry on each side for a couple minutes in olive or canola oil for risotto cakes.
- Stuffed Mushrooms. Bring to room temperature. Add some salt, bacon and stuff into de-stemmed mushrooms. Drizzle the tops with olive oil. Roast in a 400F oven until the tops are golden brown.
- Chicken and Rice Soup. Add a quart of chicken stock, chop up some leftover chicken, and add whatever veggies you want (if you want), and bring to a boil. What it to be creamy without the cream, whisk together some cornstarch and water into a paste and pour it in. You could also start with a roux, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then dump in leftover risotto for a rib-sticking soup!
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