Risotto is one of my go-to dishes when I’m low on ingredients or shopping time before dinner. I usually keep a stock of Arborio rice and Parmesan cheese on hand, so a dish like this is easy to put together. It’s not necessary a super-quick meal because risotto does take about 3o minutes of vigilant stirring, but it is simple in that it doesn’t require a lot of multi-tasking or steps that are easy to overlook. It’s basically a one-pot meal, which has its benefits. Plus, I find the stirring to be rather relaxing.
The recipe doesn’t call for warmed stock, just simmering water. I learned that tip from one of the Italian mercatos in my neighborhood. I was buying some prosciutto last summer and asked if they sold chicken stock. The man behind the counter asked me what I was making, and when I said risotto, he told me I didn’t need to add stock, saying it was an American technique to add flavor when other ingredients lack taste. If you cook with only a few ingredients, and those ingredients are good, you don’t need to add the stock. Plus it cuts out all that extra sodium from the final dish.
- 1 onion diced
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8-10 cups water
- 20 fresh basil leaves, sliced
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded or grated
1. Put a pot with the water on a back burner and bring to a simmer. Keep hot over low heat. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When heated, add diced onion and cook, 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add Arborio rice and stir to coat. Allow the rice to cook, 2-3 minutes, until the outside of the rice kernel begins to turn translucent. Add the white wine and stir until it’s absorbed.
3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the simmering water by 1/2-cup portions. Allow the risotto to absorb after each addition, stirring frequently. The amount of water required varies, but it should take about 8-10 cups. Cook the risotto, adding water by increments, about 30 minutes. Taste a grain of rice to determine done-ness. It should be al dente, not hard.
4. Add the tomatoes to the risotto and cook another 5 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with the back of the spoon as they start to break-down. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the risotto and stir to incorporate.
5. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish generously with fresh basil leaves.