2 tbsp (30 ml) olive or canola oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup (250 mL) Arborio or other medium or short-grained rice
4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock, warmed if cold
1/2-1 cup (125-250 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon
any additions you like: a handful of fresh spinach or thawed green peas, a chopped tomato, leftover roast vegetables, diced ham
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add the rice and cook for a minute, just to coat the grains with oil.
Add about half a cup of stock and cook, stirring, until it’s absorbed. Continue adding stock a half cup to a cup at a time and cook, stirring (it doesn’t have to be constantly, just frequently) until it absorbs the liquid. When the stock is all used up (it should take about half an hour) the grains should be soft. If they still have a crunchy core, add a little more water or stock.
When the rice is cooked and it’s nice and creamy, stir in the cheese, lemon zest and juice. Stir until the cheese melts. If you like, stir in a handful of spinach or green peas, cover and cook for a minute, until the spinach is wilted or peas are heated through. Serve warm.
The trick is to use medium-grained rice and to stir it often, releasing its starch into the finished dish. Once you get the hang of a basic risotto, you can dress it up with whatever ingredients your kids like: try green peas, fresh spinach, fish, ham, leftover roast chicken, a chopped tomato or cooked vegetables.
183 calories, 9.8 g fat (3.6 g saturated, 5.3 g monounsaturated, 1 g polyunsaturated), 14 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrate, 7.6 g protein, 0.3 g fibre.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2012.