Risotto seems to take time and a long list of ingredients, but it’s simpler than you might think. This one-pot dish can be ready in about 30 minutes, and you can make it with dibs and dabs from the garden, fridge or freezer. Several base ingredients, like olive oil, butter, onion and garlic, are likely already in your kitchen. Ones you may not always keep at hand, like frozen shrimp, keep well or can be replaced by other flavors.
If you have homemade stock stashed in the fridge or freezer, you can quickly warm it up in a separate saucepan so that it’s ready to add a scoop at a time. If not, this recipe uses enough liquid that you could make a fresh stock. A few years ago, when I taught a risotto workshop to some foodies on a swing through Canada, they seemed as impressed by the stock we made with vegetable trimmings and shrimp shells at the start of the evening as by the finished risottos we enjoyed for dinner.
The only specific ingredient you need for a good risotto is a highly glutinous rice that releases starch as it cooks. Arborio is the most common risotto rice. I can find it in 2-pound bags in most natural food stores and aisles throughout the Flathead or in the bulk dispensers at Kalispell’s Mountain Valley Foods. The rice absorbs loads of liquid without getting mushy and instead becomes creamy with a firmer center, something basmati and quick-cook rice varieties can’t achieve no matter how much you stir.
Shrimp and Green Vegetable Risotto
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups vegetable or shrimp stock, warmed
1 cup fresh vegetables, such as broccoli florets, torn kale and/or chopped green pepper
1 pound raw shrimp, defrosted if frozen and peeled
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté for about two minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the rice and stir for one minute, until coated. Add about 1 cup of warm stock and simmer uncovered, stirring every couple of minutes, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue the process, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of stock at a time.
After about 15 minutes, add dense vegetables, like broccoli, to the rice. Cook for about five minutes, until the rice is almost done. Stir in quick-cooking vegetables, shrimp and wine, if using, and cook for two to three minutes, until the shrimp is done and the wine is absorbed. Stir in the butter and Parmesan until they melt into the rice, and then fold in the parsley. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat and let rest one to two minutes before serving.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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