Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

September 7, 2009

Basic Risotto

Filed under: main dish, side dish, vegetarian — Emily @ 8:35 am

A few months ago I had the privilege of seeing Giada De Laurentiis speak at UCLA at the L.A Times Festival of Books. She was just as cute and bubbly in person as she is on TV! She brought her daughter and husband up on stage as well—what a cute family! I went home and opened up her cookbook that had been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I decided to try this risotto recipe and this led to a week-long kick of making tons of different types of risotto! While risotto does require you to be attentive and stand by the stove for awhile, it is very easy and really versatile. You can add just about anything to it! This is a basic risotto recipe which serves as a building block. I added thawed frozen peas and dried shiitake mushrooms.

Basic Risotto

Serves 6 (as a side dish)

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Add-in Ideas:

prosciutto, vegetables such as peas, seafood such as shrimp, or herbs and other seasonings such as saffron. Don’t cook these items with the rice or they will overcook with the long cooking time. Instead, cook them separately and add them in at the end.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

And here are a few pictures of Giada at her talk. She even walked past me and said hello before she went on stage. The moderator for the event was Barbara Fairchild, who is the editor of Bon Appetit Magazine—and was also a friend of Julia Childs.



  1. Oh are you making me hungry! I love Giada, she has great recepies.

    Comment by Dee — September 7, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  2. Oh wow! What a cool opportunity to see her! 🙂 Your risotto looks great! I’m intimidated by risotto, but one day, I’ll have to just go for it and try to make it!

    Comment by Amy — September 7, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

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