You’ve had a great day! You’re feeling good. Some mellow tunes are playing and you even feel like doing a little twirl on the way over to the fridge. This is the time to dance like no one is watching – because actually – no one is 😊
You swing open the fridge door, ready to whip up something amazing for dinner. The inside of the fridge stares blankly back at you. There’s a bit of chicken you defrosted the night before, and a few veggies from the market. Ughhhmmmmm….what are you going to do with it all?
Times like this, are perfect for a Risotto Rescue! Risottos are wonderful for letting those creative juices flow, but, I’m not talking about those creamy, cheesy dishes that appeared on menus a few years ago. This is your own masterpiece, and once you’ve nailed the basic formula, you’ll absolutely love this dish that is so versatile, healthy and flexible.
Making a risotto is really pretty straight forward. You may have read recipes talking about pots of boiling homemade stock and strict instructions about constant stirring and juggling pots, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. While I agree all those things lead to perfection, a simple risotto is really about cooking your rice in one pan, while tossing your other ingredients next to it in a fry pan. Once the rice is just about cooked, tip it into the fry pan and give it all a good stir. It’s then pretty much ready to serve and can be all brought together in about 20 minutes!
Basic Risotto Rice
The secret of a really tasty risotto is to get some good layering of flavours. You can start to do this with the rice by using white wine and/or a good stock to cook the rice. If you don’t have an awesome homemade stock in the freezer, just use a good commercial one. Water will do if you’re out of everything.
For two people:
1 Cup Arborio rice (or other white rice)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice)
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
Stock (about 4 cups)
- In the bottom of a large saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in oil, until starting to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and toss for a minute or so until the rice colours slightly.
- Add the white wine (or stock if not using) and stir to loosen the rice from the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat and simmer gently until the wine (or stock) is just about absorbed. Add another cup of stock and stir.
- Keep adding stock a cup at a time and stirring until the rice is cooked. Wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.
- You don’t really need to stir constantly – but keep an eye on the rice and stir frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan. The rice is cooked when it is plump and soft, but still has a firm centre. (about 15 to 20 minutes). You are now ready to combine with your favourite flavours.
Now for the fun bit – Choose your flavours!
While your rice is cooking, choose the ingredients you are going to use to make your awesome risotto. I like to use things that will stir fry or roast in the time it takes the rice to cook. I’ve listed my favourites below to get you started. No quantities are included because it’s hard to know what you have in your fridge 😊
Chicken. Mushroom. Bacon. Roast cherry tomatoes. Baby spinach
Put the tomatoes in the oven on 160 degrees to roast. Chop your chicken (breast or thigh) into bite size pieces and stir fry with the chopped mushrooms and bacon. Add some seasonings and fresh herbs, if you have any. Toss through the rice (cooked as above), then add the roasted tomatoes (squash to get the juice in the sauce) and baby spinach. Loosen with some extra stock or water.
Serve topped with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Mushrooms. Asparagus. Goats cheese.
Use a combination of different mushrooms if you can. Stir fry the mushrooms, in a little oil and butter, then add some wine and simmer to reduce the liquid. Season with fresh herbs and salt and pepper. When the mushrooms are nearly ready, stir through the asparagus and cook for a few minutes, until softened but still bright green. Add the risotto rice then goats cheese and stir to combine. Top with chopped parsley, walnuts, and some extra goats cheese.
You can play around with any combination of vegies, cheeses, herbs and nuts to suit your own taste.
Other things that go well together:
Broccoli/ Proscuitto/Roast tomatoes/Basil/Pamesean
Roast pumpkin/Mushroom/chicken/baby spinach/Fetta/Almonds
Have fun and enjoy the journey. I’m sure it will turn out just fine!