I spent MANY years telling people I was a terrible cook. It wasn’t a very fair statement (to myself) but it was easier to throw my cooking under the food truck bus than to deal with any unrealistic expectations. Mostly my own.
It feels ridiculous to say, but there was a time in my life where I was even busier than I am now. My husband worked and went to school full time while I held down the fort. The fort that is my own full-time job and driving all over God’s green earth shuttling our two children everywhere. We were ALWAYS on the go, so cooking wasn’t a priority or a possibility most nights. Being out of practice leads to lower confidence and, all of a sudden, I’m a self-proclaimed terrible cook.
I’m not going to say that I currently have millions of hours devoted to cooking, but the past few years have settled down in such a way that cooking is more of a possibility. And you know what? I’m not half bad. I’m definitely not on my way to my own cooking show, but I wish I would’ve given myself a lot more credit a lot sooner.
More importantly, I’m a better cook than I ever was before and I have learned to play to my strengths. Getting more comfortable with various recipes, I realized that I enjoy adapting them or adding to them to make them a little different. Even recipes that I’d normally shy away from. Like risotto.
Despite my previous beliefs, RISOTTO IS NOT HARD TO MAKE. It takes a little time and a lot of stirring, but it’s NOT DIFFICULT. It’s one of our very favorite comfort food meals and easy to adapt to include some of your favorite flavors.
Now when I make risotto, it includes a hefty dose of ingredients that add a huge punch of flavor while also being more of a MEAL than just a side.
Here is my adapted risotto recipe based (initially) on the very box it came in. You should try it. Dare I say it could be a perfect Valentine’s Day dinner for your family. Or your sweetie.
- 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups broth
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1-2 zucchini chopped
- 1 bunch asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 small broccoli heads cut into bite-sized pieces
- Large handful of spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup of cut mushrooms
- 3 Adele sausages (whatever flavor you prefer) chopped
- 1 pkg chopped pancetta
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- Chop all vegetables. It is SO much easier if everything is ready to go. You can warm up the broth (recommended) but you do not have to. I also fry up the pancetta (or bacon) beforehand. Once the pancetta is almost done, toss in the sausage to cook it as well. Remove from pan and set aside. (You can reserve some of the greasy goodness if you're okay with that business. I'm 100% okay with that business.)
- 1. Saute onion in oil and butter for 3 minutes. (Medium heat)
- 2. Add rice, stirring for 2-4 minutes (you want the rice to get a little golden but do not burn.)
- 3. Stir in enough broth to more than cover the rice. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.
- 4. Gradually stir in remaining broth one cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.
- *Despite what fancy people might say, you do NOT need to stir constantly. Just really, really often.
- During the broth and stir time of the risotto is the perfect time to cook the veggies. In another pan (probably the one you already used to cook the pancetta) saute the asparagus, broccoli and zucchini in cooking order. (Start with the veggie that takes the longest to cook and work backwards.) DO NOT OVERCOOK. No one likes mushy vegetables. Add the mushrooms to the vegetables at the last few minutes. Set vegetables aside, the risotto should be about done.
- Once all your broth has been used, you will notice the rice is very creamy. It should take about 20-25 minutes. I always taste test to check to check if it is done (no crunch in the rice...creamy but not mushy) and to check if salt is needed. (Usually not. But I'm not in charge of you. Just remember you will be adding veggies and parmesan cheese soon.) Add pepper to taste.
- At this point, add the parmesan cheese. Stir in to melt. Add pancetta, sausage and vegetables. Fold/stir in. Add chopped spinach, stir until wilted and mixed in all together. Remove from heat and serve.
This recipe is super flexible. At our house, we’ve used various vegetable combinations. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand before they go bad! We’ve even added grilled chicken and yes, of course, we’ve used bacon. (Many times.) But when I’m going to the store FOR risotto ingredients, I usually use this combination.
So. There is a part of me that is worried that I’ve forgotten something. I’m taking great solace in the fact that everything you have here will make amazing risotto. But! If I remember anything else, I’ll be sure to add it in. Enjoy!! You’re gonna love it.