I have to apologize for the dimness of this photo. Some people take lovely photos of their food with delightful presentations; that’s just rarely the case here. This time it was because Mr. Pea was starving and was continually asking when the risotto would be done. So this is all you get for a picture.
Risotto is one of those things where once you know how to make it and you’re comfortable with it, you can make any number of variations to suit your palate on any particular evening. You can also use up stuff in your fridge, which is where this risotto came from. Mr. Pea had used a small portion of a sack of spinach in his pasta salad the other night, so most of the rest of it was tossed in here. I also added some shredded mozzerrella because, well, we had some, and because we were low on parmesan, which is the cheese normally used in risotto.
First, you need some arborio rice, a particularly creamy long-grain Italian rice. You can get it inexpensively out of bulk bins or when that fails, buy an overpriced box. Then you’ll need, at minimum, white wine, an onion, and chicken broth.
I start by sauteeing a finely chopped onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a wide saucepan. When they’ve softened a bit, I toss in 1 c of arborio rice. You stir and cook about a minute, until the grains begin to get transluscent with a little white eye in the middle. Then add about a 1/4 c of white wine, and cook off. When it’s nearly gone, add some warmed chicken broth to the pan. With risotto, the trick is to continually add warm broth to the rice to just cover it, stir until it’s almost totally absorbed, and repeat. For a cup of rice it can take 2-3 c of liquid, depending on how creamy or firm you want your risotto. This whole process takes about 20 minutes. Then you add 1-2 T of butter, a serious 1/4 or more of parmesan cheese, and whatever else you have around the house. My favorite is a mixture of sauteed grape tomatoes with slivered garlic and chunks of fresh mozzerella; Mr. Pea’s is chopped roasted asparagus. Add salt and pepper and voila. In this case I added about 5 ounces of chopped fresh spinach and a good handful or two of shredded mozzerella. It’s delicious comfort food. We had it with Texas Toast, one of Mr. Pea’s favorite things. It’ll kill you but it’s certainly tasty every now and again.