I’ve got creative ideas for cooking risotto in winter:
1. Wild Mushroom Risotto
Each year, as winter sets in, I turn to risotto. The first risotto I always make is Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas. Giada rehydrates porcini mushrooms in chicken broth, then uses the porcini infused broth to cook the Arborio rice. Fresh mushrooms are tossed in and white wine adds a bit of acidity to this earthy dish. At the last minute peas go in the pot for a bit of freshness and Parmesan finishes the risotto off. It’s a comforting tradition I look forward to every winter.
2. Risotto Cakes & Balls
In Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis shares a couple of recipes for using leftover risotto. The first is Risotto al Salto (Rice Cake), which takes her leftover Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas and forms it into a pancake shape, then crisps it up in a hot pan. The second is Arancini di Riso, or fried rice balls. Giada takes her leftover basic risotto and combines it with dried bread crumbs, eggs, and mozzarella before frying the balls in hot oil for a couple of minutes. Rice cakes and balls are great with a salad or soup.
3. Lemon Risotto
Citrus season is in full swing, so why not make lemon risotto? I love how the acidity of lemon cuts through the richness of creamy risotto. Lemon risotto is a good accompaniment to roast chicken and fish. This lemon risotto recipe from Saveur is bright and simple (the rice is cooked in water and white wine, no stock). Fragrant lemon zest is added to the rice at the very end with a pat of butter and a handful of Parmesan.
4. Risotto Rosso
According to Chef Andrew Carmellini, author of Urban Italian, red wine risotto with sautéed radicchio is a traditional winter dish of northern Italy. Adding red wine to risotto produces a seductive burgundy color in the rice that makes the dish feel special, even a little romantic. Chef Carmellini’s recipe for Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarella is a must try. Radicchio, a red leafy vegetable from the chicory family, is in prime season right now. The bitter flavor of radicchio is tamed as it simmers in port, before being tossed into the risotto just as the rice finishes cooking. Smoky mozzarella adds depth and intensity. I love this recipe so much will be featuring it tomorrow on la Domestique.
5. Baked Risotto with Savory Stuffing
The latest issue of Canal House Cooking (No. 7) is dedicated to La Dolce Vita, living the sweet life in Italy. Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton share recipes learned while staying traveling in Italy, on of these gems being Tummala di Risotto e Spinaci. Using a large bowl as a mold, they line it with a layer of plain cooked risotto, then fill it with a mixture of spinach, roast chicken, pecorino, and sautéed sausage. The mold is topped off with more rice and baked in the oven. Once inverted from the mold a dome shaped baked risotto is ready to enjoy.
6. Root Vegetable Risotto
Recipes for risotto with roasted veg can be found everywhere. My favorites include the dramatic Beet Risotto from Gourmet and a hearty Sage and Butternut Squash number from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. The beauty of risotto is its adaptability- simply cook a plain risotto with stock, onion, and rice, then fold in the cooked vegetables at the end. Gourmet calls for roasting the beets while Alice Waters simmers the squash in broth until tender before tossing it into the rice. Parsnips, turnips, pumpkins, and rutabagas would also be lovely in risotto.
7. Cheddar Cheese Risotto
I knew I could count on the queen of comfort, Nigella Lawson, for a satisfying risotto. Funnily enough, her recipe for Cheddar Cheese Risotto can be found in the cookbook, Nigella Express: 130 recipes for good food, fast. Risotto fast food? What? It’s true, the risotto is ready in 20 minutes flat. I like the combination of flavors: tangy cheddar, buttery leeks, bright white wine, hot Dijon mustard, and fresh chives. Not a tradition in Italy, but perfectly at home here in the U.S.
8. Seafood Risotto
The sweet, delicate flavor of fresh seafood, especially scallops, shrimp, and lobster, compliment risotto beautifully. The recipe for Fennel Risotto with Scallops in The River Cottage Cookbook is a delicious meal for the cold, gray days of winter. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall heightens the anise flavor of fennel with a dash of Pernod. He cooks the rice in scallop stock and serves the risotto topped with seared scallops. Sounds like date night to me.
9. Risotto alla Milanese
In her book, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, the matriarch of Italian food in America shares a recipe for Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow & Saffron. It’s a side dish traditionally served with the dish Osso Buco. If bone marrow is not something you’re into, just make saffron risotto, and you’ll still have an exotic and rich dish. Saffron brings an earthy warmth to risotto, with enough flavor to support roast beef or lamb.
10. Sausage Risotto
Sausage, cured or fresh, makes risotto a quick an easy supper. The spicy meat is delicious enveloped in creamy Arborio rice and enjoyed with a glass of red wine on a cold winter’s night. Paul Bertolli shares a recipe for risotto in Cooking By Hand that uses fresh and cured sausage in the same dish. The chef garnishes this spicy risotto with aged balsamic vinegar, which sounds amazing. Over at Food & Wine, you’ll find a recipe for Fennel and Sausage Risotto by Grace Parisi that uses fresh sausage and plenty of saffron for a robust meal.
What is your favorite way to cook with risotto rice? Let me know in the comments section..Click Here.