Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Risotto with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

I have loved risotto ever since I waited for it for a full half-hour as a teenager at a little Italian restaurant. It is relatively easy and can be quite elegant. Generally my kids even really like it, particularly if I top it with a separately cooked accent vegetable or legume, which I serve on the side for them. I served this risotto with a quick saute (1 Tbsp oil, medium-high heat, stirring occasionally) of fresh picked summer squash and tomato, which I added right at the end of the squash cooking time to just warm the tomato through and evaporate excessive moisture. I seasoned the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a taste of brown sugar. A chiffonade of fresh basil would have crowned the dish nicely had I taken a moment to do it.

2 Tbsp fat (butter, margarine, or olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 cups medium grain (Arborio) rice
8 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup finely grated hard cheese (such as Parmesan)
2 Tbsp butter, softened (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the fat in a large saucepan that has been placed over medium-high heat. Place the stock in a second saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the onions to the fat and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently, until little white dots appear on the outside of the rice at the center of the grain. Add a ladle full of hot stock to the rice and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to medium so that the liquid does not boil off too quickly to be absorbed into the rice. Although it may seem counterintuitive, this is critical to making risotto in under thirty minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring. Continue to add stock and stir frequently as the stock evaporates and is absorbed into the rice. Once the rice is creamy and tender stop adding the stock and remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and butter, if desired. The grains will be distinct from one another and will be suspended in a creamy sauce. If you need additional liquid, add water to the stock pot and bring to simmer, then use the water in place of the stock. Season with salt (use ¼ tsp increments and taste to test savoryness) and pepper and serve as soon as possible.

VEGAN NOTES: To make this vegan use olive oil for the fat, vegetable stock, and a tablespoon of truffle oil or other nicely flavored oil for the flavor accent. Omit the cheese and butter.

GLUTEN NOTES: This recipe is gluten free.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, August 2012

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