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Simple Risotto and Variations


Simple Risotto and Variations
Jen Hoy
This recipe for simple risotto is the baseline recipe from which all risotto springs. Risotto makes a wonderful starter or light main dish and is really easy to make once you understand the basic concept. It requires lots of stirring and attention; so if you don’t have time for a glass of wine (or cup of tea) and a relaxed cooking experience, wait until you do. Risotto is well worth the time it takes to make, and is an impressive dish to master. Once you understand the basics, you can add just about any vegetable to enhance this basic recipe. For a step by step lesson on risotto, see How to Make Risotto. Vegans can use olive oil to replace the butter and skip the cheese. The dish will still be delicious!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 4 cups low-sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons pastured organic butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio, Padano, Vialone or other good quality risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Parsley leaves for garnish
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese for serving (optional)


Bring the broth to a simmer in a 1-quart saucepan; hold the broth on low heat.
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a in a heavy-bottomed, 3-4 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until the onions are translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and 2 pinches of sea salt and increase the heat to medium. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon (to prevent bruising the grains) until the edges of the rice kernels begin to look translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add the white wine and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of broth, stirring frequently until almost all broth is absorbed.
As the rice absorbs the liquid, continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time. After each addition, stir until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more. Continue this process until the grains are al dente tender and the risotto is very creamy, about 20-25 minutes total. (If you run out of stock, use hot water if needed).
Season to taste and serve immediately, using parsley leaves to garnish. Pass the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese alongside, if desired.
Variations Add 1 cup of petit green peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Try adding a couple of teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary to the onions while they sauté, for a more fragrant risotto.
Add two pinches of saffron threads to the broth for a bright yellow Milanese style risotto.
Add a chopped leek (the white and pale green parts only) to the onion.
See also Wild Mushroom and Saffron Risotto. Serves 4-6
Copyright Jen Hoy 2013

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