Who doesn’t love a nice creamy risotto? It’s perfect for any season. It’s versatile ~ offering a completely different flavor based on what you choose to add. It’s comforting. And best of all, it’s simple. If you can boil water, you can make risotto, right?
Some feel intimidated by making a perfect risotto. You have to be patient, as you can’t leave your arborio rice simmering unattended, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll become a master in no time. Stirring this delicious dish as you slowly add a simmering liquid makes the final product that much better. You’ve added love and best of all, the predominant flavors can come from whatever seasonal vegetables you have on hand.
Risotto is made from Arborio rice, a very starchy short grain that plumps as it absorbs liquid. There are both white and brown varieties of arborio rice; however, white is the most commonly found and used in risottos. White rice is milled and polished, which removes most of the nutrients; however, white rice is more digestible than brown. Brown rice is a good source of vitamins B1, B2, and B6, as well as manganese, iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals. Brown rice also contains protein and gamma-oryzanol, an extract of rice bran oil that has been used to treat digestive, menopausal, and cholesterol problems.
For me, I generally select white arborio rice, as I have an easier time digesting this grain verse a brown variety. I generally soak all my rice overnight. Arborio is the only exception. This may be why the brown variety is too harsh for my digestive system. While I have heard that some still find success with risotto after soaking their arborio, I have found that the starches offer a much creamier dish if I opt out of soaking or rinsing.
If you know the basics for making a risotto, you can make 1000s of varieties, so here are a few of tips that I’ve had great success wit:
- Always use 2 pans: one to simmer your broth and one for your arborio
- Never add cold or room temperature broth; always simmering
- Be creative by making your broth with the seasonal vegetables on hand; sauté a few together in your pan with allium vegetables (onion, garlic, shallot, leek, etc), then add water and bring to a simmer. Add a few fresh herbs and use this as the broth to flavor your risotto.
- Generally with white arborio use a 1:3 ratio; rice to water. I always add an extra cup of broth to my simmering liquid, as some cooks off and I’d rather have more then less.
- Sauté your arborio in butter or a high heat oil with a sprinkle of sea salt, lightly browning before adding liquid
- Add simmering liquid one cup or ladle at a time; stirring with each incorporation, allowing to absorb before the next addition.
- Cook arborio until al dente; soft, plump, but just a little chewy.
- Don’t speed up the process or your texture will not turn out. Broth should be at a gentle simmer, as well as during the additions. Don’t turn up the heat or you’ll end up with uncooked, grainy rice.
- Add additional vegetables just before you add the last cup of broth, or during the last few minutes of cooking depending on the firmness you desire. Vegetables add texture, so I suggest keeping them slightly firm or have a variety of textures such as crunchy asparagus and a slightly softened carrot.
- Add any cheese, nutritional yeast, toasted nuts, or toppings after removing completed risotto from heat.
For this delicious Spring Asparagus & Root Vegetable Risotto, I give your taste buds lots of fresh flavor while your body enjoys nutrients from 6 fresh vegetables! This recipe is gluten free and easily adapts to vegan. Most people think risotto has to have cheese and butter to be good ~ and yes, those are very tasty additions ~ but not all great risotto has to use dairy.
- 2½ tablespoons butter or refined coconut oil (divided)
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, half mooned
- 1 parsnip, half mooned
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms of your choice
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (divided) + more to taste
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
- 6 stalks asparagus, chopped, reserve flowering end
- Nutritional yeast flakes or shredded parmesan (optional)
- Heat medium sauce pan with ½ tablespoon oil on medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add carrots, parsnips, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with sea salt. Sauté, undisturbed, 3-5 minutes or until slightly caramelized.
- Add water and celery. Bring to a simmer.
- In a 3-5 quart saute pan*, heat 2 tablespoons butter/oil on medium-high heat. Add arborio rice, sprinkle with sea salt, and toast for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Begin adding simmering stock to rice, one cup/ladle at at time, stirring until absorbed. Repeat additions, continuing to stir, until rice is al dente.**
- On last liquid addition, add asparagus and any remaining vegetables from stock. Stir to incorporate, simmering until risotto reaches desired creaminess.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Stir in nutritional yeast or cheese, if using, or sprinkle over individual servings. Top with flowering asparagus ends to serve.
**LIQUID: Risotto is generally 1:3 ratio; however, I always increase the amount of water in order to account for liquid boiling off if my heat gets too high or my pan is more shallow. You may not need the entire 4 cups of stock. When you begin running low, test your arborio for doneness.
***PRODUCE: I always use local and/or organic produce; seasonal when available to provide the most flavor.