After my foolhardy attempt at fake risotto – also known as ‘that time I made a lot of quinoa’ – the other night, I decided it was about time I pulled up my big girl pants and made some of the real stuff.
I mean, I’m Italian for Pete’s sake. Doesn’t that give me a license to automatically be amazing at anything closely connected to Italian cooking?
I’m already stellar at drinking wine and actually eating Italian food, so one could assume I could also cook stuff other than baked ziti and biscotti.
I was nervous it would be too complicated or take an excessive amount of patience I just don’t have in the kitchen… but it really didn’t!
And then, since I’m a compulsive recipe changer, I tweaked the recipe to be a teensy bit healthier. Because hello, my name is Joelle and I eat large portions. The original recipe had a boatload of (delicious) butter and made 8 appetizer portions, but I wanted to eat this as my main meal…. Like, you know, in a restaurant, where they readily give you 8 servings on one plate. I’m down with that, as long as I’m not inhaling 1,000 calories in one meal.
I eat all day, people. And I don’t like to workout that much.
I also used brown rice instead of traditional Arborio, just because I’m lazy and that’s what was in my kitchen cupboard.
Anyways, for the first time possibly ever, my tweaks still made for a dish that tasted incredible and like the original, i.e. like it’s supposed to. I will say that butter would have probably make the dish a smidgen creamier (which I may go ahead and try next time, although just 1 tbsp perhaps), but this version was already every bit as tender and creamy as you could ever dream of on its own. In fact, I couldn’t stop eating it.
Now hurry up and make this. Trust me.
*Loosely adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Italian Cookbook, circa 1979
- 2 cups rice, either short, medium or long grain (Arborio is typically used for risotto, but I used brown)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 6 ounces asparagus
- 5 ounces mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 small tomato, chopped and seeded
- salt and pepper (about 1 tsp each)
- 1 tsp dried or fresh basil
- grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
1. Prepare rice as you normally would; set aside when done. [Note: I used boil in a bag, but you can use traditional rice as well.] At the same time, in a large saucepan coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion, bell pepper, asparagus, and mushrooms until tender but not brown.
2. Add chicken broth, rice, salt and pepper, and bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in tomato and basil. Cover and let stand for 5-8 minutes, just until rice is tender. Serve immediately with grated cheese. [Note: can also be topped with marinara sauce!]
Makes 2-4 main servings, or 8 appetizer servings