Why Risotto Is Always in My Meal Plan

published Apr 5, 2018
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For years, risotto intimidated me. All the commotion about constant stirring, attention, and exactness scared me out of really giving it a go; it seemed like a dish I was better off leaving to the professionals in restaurants.

Then, when working on a farm in Italy, I met a dear old nonna that shook the fear right out of me. She’d make a giant pot of risotto frequently for the staff and guests staying on the farm and never worked up a sweat. She’d toss in the odds and ends she’d find in the kitchen, stir it frequently but never obsessively, and the result would always be creamy and comforting. After learning Graziella’s ways, it wasn’t long before risotto became not just something I’d make to show off what I learned in Italy, but also something I now lean on pretty much every week.

Once you let go of the belief that risotto is fussy and fancy, you’ll see that it’s one of the most flexible (and, I’ll argue, most enjoyable) things you can make, which is why it should be a constant in your meal plan, just like it’s in mine.

Why Risotto Should Be in Your Weekly Dinner Rotation

Once you strip away preconceived notions about risotto, what you’re left with is really just a technique. Cooking risotto is simply another way to cook rice — it’s just that the rice required is a short-grain variety rather than the kind you steam for your weekly stir-fry. Keep that in mind and suddenly it’s a whole less intimidating.

Risotto Is the Ultimate Pantry Meal

Since making risotto is a technique rather than a hard-and-fast recipe, it’s infinitely adaptable, which automatically qualifies it as weeknight-friendly. I usually block out a weekly risotto night and flavor it based on what I need to use up in my fridge.

If I have a half-empty box of mushrooms and some sad-looking herbs, then we’ll be eating mushroom risotto flecked with thyme and rosemary. If I was overly ambitious at the farmers market and bought more veggies than I can actually handle, the whole slew of them are definitely becoming a mixed vegetable risotto. Or if all I have is some pesto that’s either store-bought or I made and froze over the summer, I’ll stir that right in just before serving and call it pesto risotto.

Risotto Is the Ultimate Meditative Meal

Beyond the flexibility that makes risotto possible on busy weeknights is the fact that I find it a true joy to make. I’ll argue that stirring risotto is hardly a chore but rather a pleasure. After a long day, standing over the pan and stirring away is meditative, especially when doing so with a glass of wine in the other hand and music in the background.

I find I can unpack the contents of the day in those 20 or 30 minutes and find some much-needed peace. Making risotto should be a relaxed, humble task — one that makes you remember why cooking should be enjoyable in the first place, even on the most hectic of days. That’s reason enough to slot it into your meal plan immediately.

Get the recipe: How to Make Risotto at Home

Do you make risotto? What do you love about the process?