Some of you may be under the impression that risotto is unhealthy and way too hard to make at home. Well, I’m here to dispel both of those myths. Ellie Krieger came up with this recipe for vegetable risotto that is both healthy AND easy to make at home. I won’t lie, risotto is a bit labor intensive – it’s not the type of dish that you put on the stove and come back later to find ready to serve. But if you’re going to be in the kitchen making something else anyway, it’s just a matter of regular stirring to make creamy, delicious risotto. There is absolutely nothing complicated or difficult. But what’s so amazing about this recipe is that it turns out that despite what restaurants may have you believe, you really don’t need tons of cream, butter, or cheese to make risotto seem incredibly indulgent! This recipe has a drop of olive oil and less than a tablespoon of cheese per serving, and is packed full of veggies. And if that’s not enough, it is impressive enough to serve to company – I just made it for New Year’s Eve dinner and got rave reviews!
Here is the recipe with my modifications – let me know what you think!
adapted from Food Network
6 cups low-sodium, low fat chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice*
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound package frozen asparagus cuts
3 lightly packed cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano
Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Once it starts to simmer you can cover and turn off heat.
Heat the oil in larger saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute until it starts to look translucent. Add the wine and simmer, stirring regularly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring regularly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth about 3/4 cup at a time. Stir well each time you add more broth, and regularly after that until it is absorbed. I found that sometimes it helps to actually let it sit and bubble for a minute in between stirring to let the broth cook into the rice. You’re ready to add more broth when the rice still looks runny and creamy, but not much bubbling occurs when you let it sit for a minute. Once you’ve added about 2/3 of the broth, start tasting the rice for done-ness. It should be al dente – not crunchy, but with a little bite.
Add the frozen asparagus and peas and stir to combine. Then add in the baby spinach and cook, stirring regularly, until the spinach is wilted and the frozen veggies are hot. Stir in the cheese. Add more broth as needed if the risotto gets too thick. Serve with additional cheese on top if desired.
Serves 6 as a main course, and 8-10 as a side dish
*Note – Risotto is traditionally made with arborio rice, which is a white rice. After touting the healthfulness of this recipe, the one caveat is that refined grain is still not the best choice for every day! After doing some digging, I found some recommendations for substituting pearl barley in risotto recipes (e.g., here). Check here for my reviews on this healthier alternative!