Basic Italian Risotto

I love my risotto, and it’s actually my favorite rice dish. It’s probably a little amusing given that Indian rice dishes are infamous for being delectable and irresistible (think: biryani!). But, the first time I had authentic risotto made with Italian Arborio rice, I was hooked. It was a creamy, mushroom risotto with shaved parmesan on top at a local Italian restaurant. I will never forget that moment because to me, it was that close-your-eyes-and-absorb-all-the-flavors moment…mmmmmmm.

Since then, I have taken on perfecting risotto seriously (simply because I wanted to eat it often!) and I am finally there! I have made different risottos for many of you at my home, (mushroom risotto, cream of asaparagus risotto, and even butternut squash and saffron risotto) and I hope you enjoy this basic risotto recipe below that you can morph into really any risotto dish you like!

I’ve also included a photograph (and quick recipe) of what I did with this basic risotto right after I made it! If you are familiar with risotto, you will also know that leftover risotto is SO fun to have in your fridge. You can make fabulous Arancini (Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe is my favorite) or even make a cold rice salad with it. The possibilities are endless, and you can be creative with what you do with this risotto!

Please feel free to post any questions about how to attain that ‘creamy’ factor and not have a ‘dry’ risotto, or really any other question you may have. I will do my best to help! In my honest opinion though, the more LOVE you give the risotto, the more heavenly it turns out (read the recipe directions below, and you’ll see what I mean ;-))


Yields: 4-6 servings


6 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion (white or yellow), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (I use a $2 bottle of Charles Shaw’s Chardonnay, only available at Trader Joe’s, and it’s marvelous and economical!)
3 tablespoons butter

Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan (or dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Stir in the chopped onion, and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has toasted a little and become golden in color (make sure to stir almost constantly so the rice doesn’t burn – you only want it golden, not dark brown!), pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add butter. [This step, in my opinion, is key to keeping your risotto moist – the more butter, the lovelier your risotto! Feel free to add more than I’ve specified if you don’t mind 😉 I usually do…shhh!]

Turn the heat to low on your pan with the rice and onion, and now add 1/2 cup broth (make sure it is hot!) to the rice at a time, stirring until the broth is almost completely absorbed (I say almost completely because you don’t want the dry rice to cook without any liquid in your pan – it will just burn otherwise!). Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente about 20 to 30 minutes. This, my friends, is what I mean when I say that you have to give your risotto some LOVEEEE!! I hover over my risotto pan like a doting mother 🙂 and stir slowly and often to make sure that my rice cooks evenly. This process also leads to a creamy, moist rice.

Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. And make this risotto into whatever kind you want by adding vegetables, cheese, etc. Or, eat it the way it is and enjoy the simple pleasures in life 😉

This is what I added to this basic risotto right after I made it last night:

Added ingredients:
steamed broccoli florets
cooked asparagus (cooked on medium heat in a skillet with a little extra-virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, & pepper for 1-2 minutes – cooked but still crispy!)
shavings of parmesan cheese

If you don’t like cheese, you can skip it and still serve a beautiful dish (see below!)

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