Photographing food while hungry is probably not the best idea in the world. That — and the fact that risotto is mildly tricky to capture when you’ve only somewhat recently started photographing food — is the reason why I’m leading this post with a picture of a dish that’s still over the stove. But while I may or may not have committed at least a mild food blogger faux pas by doing so, I promise you this risotto is tasty.
I think I only tried making risotto for the first time about a couple of years ago. Prior to that, it seemed like a luxurious sort of dish I should only stick to ordering at restaurants. But as someone who stopped using a rice cooker ages ago and will happily boil a pot of rice over the stove, I eventually figured I should just learn how to make my own risotto. Of course, making risotto is a little more involved than merely boiling a pot of rice. But while one must pay close attention while preparing it, I honestly believe it’s a fairly simple, tasty thing to prepare.
This risotto helped me accomplish what I’m often trying to do — use up some spare ingredients that I don’t want to see go to waste. And on a somewhat similar note, it only used a touch of wine. From what I’ve gathered (and though I don’t profess to be a risotto expert by any means), the inclusion of wine isn’t super necessary when making risotto. I wish I’d known this the first time I made risotto, which involved me trekking to a store to buy some sherry and eventually realizing that there was no way I’d ever use up the whole bottle (I didn’t particularly enjoy drinking it) in a timely fashion. That particular risotto was delicious and benefitted greatly from the sherry, which I found more palatable when cooked, but that doesn’t mean every risotto dish has to do the same.
In fact, in the case of this risotto — in which I used what I would consider an “optional” two tablespoons of wine, I ended up using a Riesling, because I happened to have it open at the time. It adds a subtle flavor, but if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. It all got prepared within an hour, which also makes it something you might feel like cooking on a weeknight when you’re not in a complete rush, but also don’t want to spend all night standing on your feet. Check it out:
- Serves about 2 to 3
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1.5 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 yellow/white onion, diced
- 3 and 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp white wine (optional) — I used a Riesling
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Couple of handfuls of arugula
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, then turn off the heat and keep the stock covered.
- 2. Add butter and oil to a wide, deep pan on medium heat. Then add the onions, followed by garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Then add rice and mix everything together. Cook the rice until the edge of the grain turns translucent.
- 3. Add a cup of stock, along with the two tablespoons of wine if using — let the mixture come to a boil as you stir, then reduce the heat.
- 4. Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring often. Then add another cup of stock once most of the liquid in the pan is absorbed. Keep stirring. As you stir, keep adding the remaining 1 1/4 cup of stock as the liquid in the pan with the rice gets absorbed.
- 5. The risotto should be taking on a bit of a soft and creamy texture, but it shouldn't be completely mushy. Add the mushrooms to the mix while there's still some liquid in the pan, in the final minute or two before turning off the heat. Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, turn off the heat, and add the arugula and parmesan. Stir thoroughly and you'll see the arugula wilt. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve!
- In case the rice isn't looking cooked to your liking, and you've run out of the stock/wine, add a bit of water to help it cook more easily.
Song Pairing: Radiohead, “Burn the Witch”
With the band’s new album out, I’ve been in a Radiohead sort of mood and while I’ve accumulated a few favorite tracks on the album, I’ve also grown more and more appreciative of the first single, “Burn the Witch.” The string work here is the highlight for me, with the the orchestration sounding almost chipper at times before it eventually dramatically builds up in a dissonant climax, giving it a bit of a Beatles-esque “A Day in the Life” quality. And I’ve decided it goes just fine with this risotto.