Can we talk for a minute about risotto?
Risotto has a bad reputation. Finicky, high-maintenance, impossible to get right. Always either chewy or mushy. Not worth the effort. But I’m here to tell you that it absolutely is worth the effort, and that this ultimately quite simple dish is about to become your ticket to impressing everyone at any dinner party you ever host, guaranteed.
To start with the basics, risotto is an Italian style of cooking rice that involves simmering short-grain rice in broth veeeeeeery slowly over medium-low heat, then mixing the resulting tender rice with cheese and the flavorings of your choosing. Sometimes I use lemon and parsley, sometimes I use prosciutto and peas.
Forget this myth you’ve heard about needing to stir risotto continuously for an hour. It’s wrong. Do you need to stir it? Yes. Continuously? Not at all. I took the dog out right after dumping in a batch of broth, that’s how not-continuously you need to stir. The risotto will wait.
At the same time, you do pretty much need to follow this recipe carefully and develop a sense for when the rice is actually done. It shouldn’t be mushy; it should have a good bite to it, but never crunch. The rice grains should feel like they are on the verge of meshing into one another, but remain distinct.
This particular version was inspired by my tomato-veggie broth and the flavors of Caprese salad; a more traditional risotto would have just parmesan cheese and probably chicken broth. On the upside, my version is meatless and gluten-free, though probably not something you’d want to eat, like, every day.
Unless you wanted to weigh 1,200 pounds. Which, I mean, no judging here.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups tomato-vegetable broth or boxed stock
- 3 Tbsp diced sundried tomatoes
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese cheese
- 3 Tbsp fresh basil, cut into ribbons
- cheese and basil, grape tomatoes for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, about three minutes. Add rice and toast until you can hear it clicking in the pan, about two minutes.
- Add wine and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering until liquid has been absorbed. Slowly add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting for each batch to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take some time — between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. Be patient, grasshopper. You’re also going to want to stir occasionally, but vigorously, to keep the rice from sticking to the pan.
- With the last 1/2 cup of broth, add the sundried tomatoes. Stir.
- Once all the broth has been absorbed, remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella cheese and continue stirring until completely melted and stringy.
- Add basil and stir to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with cheese and basil.