The Best… Bella Risotto!

Risotto is…

Beautiful.

Risotto is…  difficult to cook, but worth the time spent. It is rich with texture, soft and creamy, but with a bit of a crunch. It is versatile, simple, but can also be jazzed up. It is filling, meant to be matched with butter and cheese, but also a great partner to lemon zest and olive oil.

Risotto is… comfort food.

My dinner last night was not only comforting but necessary.. Coming from a recipe that I formulated just by listening to my stomach. The flavors spectacular, and as soon as you dig in to your bowl, all worries and stresses become second in command to your soul. All you see are the beautiful colors of the red tomatoes and the purple onion, with polka dots of parsley making an appearance throughout. All you smell is the marriage of the acidic tomatoes and lemon with the tang of the marsala and the aroma of the onion! The recipe yields a dish that has the power of a pasta with red sauce, but without the over consumed, ‘I’ve eaten this way to much’ stigma that tags itself firmly to that college kitchen staple.

 

image from flickr.com

Bella Risotto:

Beautiful, Earthy, Lasting, Likeable, Arborio

Leave yourself at least 40 minutes for prep and cook time.

  • 1 cup of Arborio Rice
  • 32 ounces Chicken Stock
  • 3/4 cup Marsala Wine
  • 8-10 stalks of Asparagus
  • 1/2 a can of Plum Tomatoes (with their liquid)
  • 1/2 a Red Onion
  • 1/2 the juice of a Lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated)
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Begin by warming the chicken broth in a saucepan. Once it hits boil, let it simmer with the lid on until it is ready to be used.

2. The next step is to cook the asparagus. You can either saute it in some olive oil until cooked, or put it in a steamer. Be careful not to overcook it as it will finish  when added into the mix at the end.

3. Let the asparagus cool to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the dish.

4. Dice the onion and throw it into a large deep saute pan that has warm olive oil in it. You will be cooking the entire dish in this pan… Cook the onions until slightly browned and softened.

5. Taking a small bowl, pour in the liquid from half of the can of tomatoes. Remove the tomatoes and crush them in your hands being careful to throw away any of the innards or seeds.

6. To the softly sauteed onions, add the cup of arborio and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is slightly crisped.

7. Now for the time consuming segment of the dish. Make sure the pan is on medium low heat…. Slowly add 1/2 a cup of stock (I just use a small ladle). Let the rice absorb this broth while stirring constantly. You can also tilt the pan back and forth. Alternate stock with 3/4 of a cup of the tomato mixture until all of the tomato mixture is used and absorbed.

Rice slowly absorbing the tomato and stock.

 

8. Now you will want to add half of the allotted marsala. Let it get fully absorbed by the rice. Stirring constantly…

9. Continue slowly adding chicken stock and the rest of the marsala until fully absorbed. I used all of the stock, but if you see that the arborio is getting creamy and it tastes cooked through, it is okay to not finish all of the stock.

10. The lemon juice should also be slowly added and absorbed. This should be done at the end, and also to taste. If you like the tartness of lemon, use it all… I love it! If not, go a little lighter with it.

11. Finish off the dish by tossing in the cooked asparagus, 1/3 of a cup of  Parmigiano, and salt and pepper.

Bella, no?

Your last responsibility is to beautify your dish. It deserves it…  Chopped parsley is a perfect garnish, as is a little smile of lemon on the side.

If you love Parmagiano, sprinkle the gorgeous snow flurries of some grated cheese atop the dish to show a great contrast, and add even more flavor!

 

The recipe yields enough for about two or three people. It is very filling but a great side dish would be a fresh italian salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing or even some steamed broccoli.

Mangia!

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