risotto rosso

January 24, 2011

I’m reading A Tuscan in the Kitchen by Pino Luongo whose description of making risotto comes in handy when you are at the stove and feeling rushed or wanting to cut corners. He says “When you make a risotto you should be in perfect harmony with yourself. You shouldn’t be nervous or angry. It’s a ritual that is going to give you so much pleasure later that it’s worth spending the fifteen or twenty minutes over a hot stove stirring very slowly. It can be like seducing a woman. She doesn’t know you, and you need to work things out with her slowly – meeting, flirting, getting to know each other, and wanting each other. It’s a dish of romance. If you rush it’s never good.” So take your time with this one and enjoy the fruits of your labour. You won’t be sorry.

olive oil

2 large onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups arborio rice

4 cups pureed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups white wine

big bunch of fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper

Heat a couple of big glugs of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent and soft. Add garlic, saute for another minute or two. Then add arborio rice and saute with onions and garlic for about 2 -3 minutes until rice is coated in oil.

Meanwhile, heat tomatoes and wine in a saucepan so they are hot and ready to be added to the risotto. There are a couple of important things to remember when making risotto: a) make sure your liquid ingredients are simmering away so they are hot when you add them, b) add the liquid slowly (just barely cover the rice each time you add the liquid and allow it to be fully absorbed before adding more), and c) stir a lot. So now with these tips in hand, add the tomato/wine mixture slowly and stir lots.

Once you’ve flirted and romanced the rice with the tomato and wine mixture (if you need more than what’s called for above, simply add a bit more wine, tomatoes, water, or stock) and it’s reached the perfect state of al dente-ness, add salt and pepper to taste and the chopped basil. Simple? Totally simple. Totally worth it. Totally perfect.

After a season of debauchery with the inevitable over-eating of heavy Christmas dishes we needed something fresh and green to start the New Year. Now most of you will probably not think of risotto as a nice, light, cleansing dish but this one comes pretty close. It’s bright, refreshing, and alive, and without the cheese and butter – which I’ve come to conclude is yummy but totally unnecessary – it is surprisingly light. This risotto won my heart.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced

2 leeks, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 cups of arborio rice

4 cups of veggie stock

1 cup white wine

a small bunch of fresh parsley, very finely chopped

1/2 lemon

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil for the risotto in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Saute onion, fennel, and leek until tender. Add the minced garlic and saute another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Add arborio rice stirring constantly until evenly coated. Begin to add the stock and wine slowly. Remember, the key to good risotto is to 1) stir constantly and 2) add the liquid slowly until the rice is just covered. Let the rice absorb the liquid and then add a little more, again, until the rice is just covered. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Once the rice has reached the perfect state of al dente-ness add the parsley and the juice of half a lemon and toss. Season with good sea salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve. And have a little bowl of grated parmigiano on the table for those that want to indulge. And enjoy!