Italian #recipes: Risotto essenziale

Photo of cooking risotto from Wikimedia commons contributed to public domain in 2005
Photo of cooking risotto from Wikimedia commons contributed to public domain in 2005

My friend Matteo heard that I wasn’t feeling well and suggested a nourishing, yet quick rice dish to prepare for dinner. He gave me this recipe while we were chatting in Italian in the typical Italian way, meaning without specific measurements, providing just a guideline to prepare the dish to be interpreted by feel and experience by the cook. I asked him to review this recipe to be sure I faithfully captured his idea in my preparation of the dish. I neglected to take a photo of my finished dish, but I found the above photo that shows a typical Risotto preparation.

I took this opportunity to read about Risotto in the wikipedia article and found that essentially the same recipe that Matteo gave me, so I decided to call it an essential risotto recipe, meaning it has all of the elements of the typical Italian risotto preparation.

Risotto essenziale: Essential risotto

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • 1/2 large onion or whole medium onion – quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups of rice (350 grams) preferably Italian arborio style rice, but any short-grain rice will do. I used organic basmati rice.
  • 2 to 3 cups of vegetable broth (450 to 700 ml) – note you can make stock by hand or use vegetable bouillon cubes, using the instructions on the cubes
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine (120 ml). I used sauvignon blanc, which is what I had on-hand at the time.
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Fry the pieces of onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add just a little white wine and stew onions in the wine for about 1 to 2 minutes to prepare for the rice.

Optional: It is suggested that you pre-heat the vegetable broth in a separate pan, as this will improve the ability to integrate it into the rice later on.

Add the rice and fry it with the onion, but don’t let it brown. Add the rest of the white wine and fry the rice in it until the liquid has been absorbed completely.

Once the rice has absorbed the liquid, then it is time to add the vegetable broth.

Simple method:

Cook the rice in the vegetable broth on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is cooked tender, but do not over cook. It should be left "al dente" with a slight crunch to it.

Typical method:

Integrate the hot broth a little at a time into the rice and onion, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon as the liquid absorbs, until the rice is tender, but not overcooked. By using this method, the rice will release its natural starches during the cooking process, giving the rice the creamy texture that is typical of Risotto dishes.

The rice is now ready to eat! You can garnish it with Italian parsley, serve it with cooked vegetables (like I did), or serve it as a primo piatto ( first course) as part of any Italian meal.

Ci sentiamo presto, Lina

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