If broccoli-cheddar soup ran off to Italy to gain a bit of the country's culture, I think it would return as this risotto. This simple recipe takes the well-loved brassica and cheese combo and transforms it into a creamy risotto that remains firmly in the family-friendly zone.
While Parmesan is classic for risotto, replacing it with sharp, nutty cheddar that melts into wonderful gooeyness ensures this dish will get all the cheers. It's a one-pot dinner that feels a bit special for the adults, but it's extra satisfying for the kids, which means it's sure to gain a repeat spot on your weekly meal plan.
A Broccoli-Cheddar Riff on Risotto for the Whole Family
I think when broccoli florets are swimming in a creamy, cheesy mess of rice, anyone will get on board, including those green vegetable-averse kids. While most risotto recipes involve adding a splash of white wine to the pot during the cooking process, this one leaves it out, to make it as family-friendly as possible.
You can use either white or yellow cheddar here (the latter adds a bit of color to the situation). Whichever one you use, opt for a sharp one so that the cheese can lend extra flavor to the risotto.
Broccoli and Cheese Risotto
Serves 4 to 6
low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
unsalted butter, divided
medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped
broccoli (about 2 medium heads), cut into bite-sized florets
Freshly ground black pepper
arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Place the broth in a medium saucepan over low heat and keep it at a very low simmer.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a large, high-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven. Add the leeks, a pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper, and sauté until the leeks are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
Add the rice and cook, stirring until the edges have turned translucent but the center is still opaque, about 2 minutes. You should also be able to smell the aroma of toasted rice.
Begin incrementally adding the broth one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Continue adding broth until the rice is al dente and the broth is creamy. Begin tasting the rice after about 12 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. At this point, add the broccoli florets. The risotto is ready when the broccoli is tender, the rice is al dente (when it still has a bit of chew), and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge, 20 to 30 minutes total (you might not use up all of the broth). If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar and remaining 1 tablespoon butter until melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.