Pantry Challenge: Risotto

October 26th, 2008 by katie

Risotto is not a childhood food for Mr. Chaos or me, but it has become a comfort food. Years ago, after a disastrous first attempt, risotto was put on the cannot cook list and forgotten. However, since giving it a try at restaurants and understanding what it’s supposed to taste like, we gave it another chance. One thing I have learned-comparing the risotto I make now with that first ill-fated attempt-is that the type of rice matters. My first attempt at risotto was with regular long-grain rice because someone had told me it would work fine. Well, that person apparently doesn’t know what risotto is supposed to taste like because it doesn’t work at all. You need to use Arborio or medium grain rice. I have also seen it simply labelled “Risotto Rice.” I am sorry.  I was wrong.  See my update here.

The great thing about risotto is you can make it any way you like. Add chopped, sauteed mushrooms and mushroom stock in place of the chicken stock and you’ve got a mushroom risotto. Add cooked peas and shrimp and use seafood stock. Add a ton of cheese and vegetables or beef stock and Italian sausage. Risottos can include whatever you like, easily making them into main dishes. The ingredients are simple and ones you can keep on hand for an easy pantry dinner.

Basic Risotto

serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side, prep 5 min, cook time approx 20 min
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring stock to a boil and turn down to simmer, keep hot while cooking risotto.
  2. In a separate pot over medium heat, melt butter with a little oil and saute the onion until soft. Add garlic.
  3. When onion and garlic are soft, add rice and toss to coat. Allow to toast lightly in the butter.
  4. Add white wine and stir until almost completely absorbed.
  5. Adding about a cup at a time, add hot stock to rice and stir. Once stock is absorbed, add the next cup of hot stock and so on.
  6. At about 3 1/2 cups, check the texture and seasoning of the risotto. Salt and pepper. Add more stock if necessary.
  7. Once risotto is tender and creamy, remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. This is also the point where you could stir in any additional ingredients.
  8. Drizzle with flavored olive oil if desired and serve!

It’s the end of the week for us so I was out of most of my fresh ingredients. I always have frozen shrimp on hand so I decided to make some simple, flavorful shrimp to serve alongside the risotto. I love cooking shrimp because they cook so quickly and it gives you time to focus on the other aspects of the meal, yet they still feel special to serve.

Quick Lemon Garlic Shrimp

serves 2, prep 5 min, cook 10 min
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • parsley
  1. Thaw shrimp quickly under running water if frozen.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over high heat.
  3. Remove from heat and add garlic and pepper.
  4. Return to heat and add shrimp.
  5. Allow shrimp to cook undisturbed until opaque. Stir once to flip half way through.
  6. Turn off heat, add lemon zest, juice, and parsley. Salt and pepper.
  7. Toss to coat, serve immediately.
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Posted in Budget, Easy, Fast, Main Dish, Pantry Challenge, Sides

9 Responses

  1. Stacy

    Where do you get your great ideas form? Love your recipes! Keep cooking!!

    My husband asked me before I started this if I could keep up the momentum and I told him I could talk about food and cooking forever and so far it’s true! -Katie

  2. noble pig

    Yes the possibilities with risotto are endless, this one sounds divine.

  3. sara angel

    mm i love shrimp and risotto. this looks great! is there any white wine substitute for those of us under 21?

    That’s the best part of risotto, you can use whatever flavors you like! You can just use extra broth, and if you’d like you can experiment with a splash of flavored vinegar or apple juice for a little tang. -Katie

  4. Tony

    bravo! I think you did great by trying it again in your own kitchen. Don’t you find that it even tastes a lot better than restaurants? A lot of restaurants par-cook their risottos which makes it gummy and gross a lot of times. Then they’ll usually douse it with cream to try and cover up the fact that it was par-cooked.
    sorry for comment-venting, hehe. Your risotto looks wonderful and I particularly love the addition of the lemon zest 🙂

  5. My First Kitchen

    Great post! Sausage in risotto is one of my favorites. Glad to see you didn’t give up! And I saw your photo on FoodGawker this morning! It looks great!

  6. Melissa

    Hmmm. You got me thinkin. Later this week, I wanted to make this really great basil shrimp recipe that I’ve made in the past. I bet it would be even better as a risotto. I’ve made risotto 4 times and nailed it twice. Here’s to continued good luck. *crossing fingers*

    If it comes out looking like yours, I’ll be really happy. 🙂

  7. Kristen

    I need to give myself the pantry challenge much more often. I have an overflowing pantry and just need to be more creative with what is in there!

  8. Rayrena

    Ooh, that reminds me of a risooto I had in Italy. It was the best I’ve ever had. It had shrimp and zucchini and was cooked in tomato sauce. I would never thought of making it myself but perhaps I should reconsider.

    I don’t know how you find the time to cook great dishes all the time!

    Hahahahahahaha! It’s all an illusion. I am lucky if I get 3 meals done a week. That’s a good week! Check out What’s for Dinner? and you can get a sense of what I shoot for every week, although I can get a little ambitious in my planning! -Katie

  9. sweetbird

    I too was once intimidated by risotto after royally screwing it up once, I guess now I’m slowly getting it right. This looks outstanding though, I’ll have to try the lemon one.

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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