24 July 2009

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

This is one of those endlessly adaptable recipes that is great to have in your arsenal in case company shows up at a moment's notice. It's quite good enough for that. Hopefully, though, they'll give you more than a moment's notice, since this takes about an hour. That's not too bad, still, for company and all.

Anyhow, please make this. And please feel free to use your favorite mix of vegetables. Asparagus and artichokes would be lovely, for example. I toyed with the idea of adding some crispy pancetta to mine, but I left it out for the sake of simplicity. It wouldn't have been a bad addition, and neither would chicken or even some medium-rare grilled steak. Let your imaginations run wild. Please, though - do tell me what you come up with!

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips 1-2 inches long and 1/2 cm wide
3 yellow squash, cubed
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
4-6 cups chicken stock, simmering
1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss together half of the garlic, the red pepper, squash, cauliflower and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Spread over a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and the oregano. Roast for 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the risotto. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and the remaining garlic with a pinch of salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the rice and stir until the grains are fully coated with the fat and appear mostly translucent with a small pearl of white in the middle.

4. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated. The rice should begin to seem creamy almost immediately.

5. Begin adding the chicken stock in 1/2-1 cup intervals, cooking each time until it has absorbed most of the way and the rice seems fairly gelatinous and creamy. The best way to tell when it is done is to taste it - when the texture is to your liking, it's done! As you make more risotto, you'll get a feel for it.

6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining butter - these will bring the risotto to its final, creamiest texture. To serve, ladle the risotto into bowls and spoon the roasted vegetables on top. Enjoy!