Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Brydie Thompson

Risottos are so versatile and a lot easier and quicker than most people think. Serve as a complete meal or as a side dish. You can even make risotto cakes out of leftover risotto by shaping into patties and then frying. In spring make the best of fresh asparagus by adding fresh stems along with your last ladle of stock. Other spring vegetables like fresh peas, zucchini, baby spinach or rocket all make a great addition to a risotto. In autumn I love mushrooms or pumpkin and in summer I like to keep it quite plain, like the Italian, with either a little saffron or fresh herbs and serve alongside some beautiful BBQed meat or veg …

1 cup risotto rice*
olive oil
white wine (optional)
1 finely diced onion
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups good quality stock (my go to is Restore Cheeky Chicken Broth as it is full of flavour and nutrition)
Parmesan cheese

Step 1 – Heat stock in a small pot.

Step 2 – In another pan, over a low heat, sweat the onions in a little olive oil for 3‒4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Step 3 – Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes till rice is well coated. Add a dash of white wine, if using, and stir until all the wine has evaporated.

Note: If making a pumpkin or mushroom version now is the time to add these.

Step 4 – Ladle at a time, add the hot stock to the rice, allowing the rice to soak up the liquid before adding another, stirring often.

Step 5 -When the stock is nearly all used check to see if the rice is al dente. Remember it will continue to cook a little once removed from the heat. If happy, remove from the heat and stir through Parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning before serving.

*Risotto rice

Risotto rice like arborio, carnaroli and vialone nano absorb liquids and flavour and release starch far better than a regular short grain rice, giving risotto its characteristic texture and creaminess. Normally a short plump grain, arborio rice is the most common risotto rice in New Zealand. As a simple dish, risotto deserves the finest ingredients you can afford, and as rice is the hero it’s worth looking for other varieties than arborio. Vetro Tauranga have a few to choose from including carnaroli, which is considered the ‘king’ or ‘caviar’ of risotto rice, loved by chefs for its great flavour and ability to hold its shape while producing the creamiest risotto.

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