A Risotto Twofer

Ok, I admit it: I’m completely obsessed with risotto.  Admitting it is the first step, right?  It’s not something I’m looking to change, though.  Risotto seems classy but it’s also easy peasy and really versatile, so what’s not to love?

Today I’m bringing you not one, but TWO risotto recipes, one with meat (sausage) and one without.  They’re both pretty great (though Little Miss Butterfingers here put much more pepper in the sausage one than she meant to and things got potent fast–oops!), and are definitely worth adding to your arsenal of easy but fancy-feeling dishes!

Tomato and Sausage Risotto (minimally adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Notes: I only used 1/2 lb of sausage and it still made a LOT.  Since all I had in the kitchen was crushed tomatoes (with “Italian herbs”), I used that instead of diced tomatoes and it worked well– it probably added some more flavor thanks to those herbs.  Also, every time this recipe called for salt I didn’t use it.  You really don’t need it in there; there’s plenty of flavor going on already, so why add excess sodium? I used spinach when I made this, but if I’d had arugula around I would’ve used that– I think it would be great in there!

Serves 4

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

  1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
  5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

If you’re looking to make a meatless meal, give this recipe from Greens and Seeds a shot.

Green Risotto

Serves 3-4

Notes: Use stock if you’ve got it– it just adds so much more flavor than plain water.  Plus, it will likely make that added salt at the end unnecessary, woo!  If you don’t have pine nuts (SO pricey!), don’t worry– it tastes just fine without ’em.

1 T. butter
2 shallots, finely minced
2-3 garlic, minced
1 c. risotto rice (like arborio or carnaroli)
1 c. light colored beer
3 or more c. water or stock
2 T. pesto, or chopped fresh herbs
a few large handfuls of arugula, finely chopped
2 T.  cold butter
sea salt to taste

Garnish with toasted pine nuts (or almonds) and a shaving of parmesan

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot or skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallots for a few minutes, then add the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Once the shallots become soft, stir in the rice to coat in butter. Let this cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.

Risotto and Shallots

Pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen anything stuck to the bottom. Simmer until most of the beer is gone.  Keep the liquid softly simmering, but not boiling – you don’t want too much liquid to evaporate.

Once the beer is mostly gone, add water or stock, a 1/2 c. at a time, stirring frequently and waiting until the last bit has simmered away before adding the next bit. When the rice is almost done, but still firm when you bite into it, stir in the pesto. If you’re using fresh herbs wait and stir them in with the arugula.

After about 20 minutes your rice should be done. It should be tender, but still a little firm to the bite. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and arugula until the greens wilt. Taste and add salt if necessary, enough to make the flavors pop. This will vary depending on whether you used water or stock, and pesto or herbs. Serve topped with the parmesan and pine nuts.

Green Herb Risotto

Between this lentil recipe a few weeks ago and now these two this week, I’ve been a risotto-making machine.  I’ll probably have to stop soon, since we’re almost out of arborio rice!  But then again, we are going to the grocery store today….just kidding! I promise the next recipe will break the risotto holding pattern I’ve been in lately.  In the meantime, though, you should check these out.  Other than presence in the kitchen, they don’t ask too much of you.  And that’s the kind of recipe I can definitely get behind!

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