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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pesto Risotto

Every once in a while a cooking contest will have the contestants schmoosh two recipes together.  Usually it's a pretty darned weird combination.  In our case, we combined risotto and pesto and got a pretty darned GOOD combination.  Good enough that I can say I liked this better than pesto and pasta.  Who'd have ever thought that????

Let's start with the pesto.  About 30 years ago a friend of mine named Monica gave me a pesto recipe.  I wrote it on the back of one of those pink phone message slips.  And, that's still what I use...  It's dog-eared as all get out.  But, it's still the best pesto recipe I've ever found.  Her secret is that you can do everything but add the butter and the parmesan and freeze the sauce.  We freeze a couple of pints of that every fall.  Then I thaw enough for each recipe and add the appropriate butter and cheese and we're good to go.  Just in case, I always keep a jar of Trader Joe's pesto in the pantry.  It's ok as a back up.  Here's the link to the post with the pesto recipe:

And, now, risotto.  Our clean up the kitchen for two.   Over the years I've posted several recipes for risotto.  But, it appears that I've never posted our basic recipe.  So, here goes:

Kate's Basic Risotto


1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 c Arborio rice
1/4 c white wine (Chardonnay is usually best)
2-3 c chicken or turkey stock (keep warm in a saucepan)
1 T butter
1/2 - 1 c grated Parmesan


In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until it's softened.  Pour in the rice.  Saute until it's a teeny, tiny bit brown.  Maybe I should say beige?  Although, Connie insists there are actually only eight colors and they can be found in the basic Crayola box!  So, once the rice gets a bit of a suntan, pour in the wine.  The rice will slurp it right up.  Ladle in about half a cup of stock and stir and stir and stir.  It's the stirring motion that causes the rice grains to release their starches and create the creaminess you want.  When the rice runs dry, ladle in another half cup.  And stir. And, so on until the rice is the right texture.  You don't want it al dente nor do you want it dry nor do you want it mushy.  It needs to have creaminess with texture.  If you've run out of stock and your risotto still isn't the right texture, toss in some water.  It won't hurt a thing.  Now, if you're planning on adding anything, this is the time to do it.  Whatever you add in should have been cooked in advance and should be nice and warm.  We put whatever in.  Mushrooms, peppers, shrimp, chicken, beef, zucchini, beets.  Like I said earlier, risotto is clean up the kitchen for two for us.  Ok, you've added in the extra and now it's time to plop in the knob of butter and the Parmesan.  Mix it all together and serve.  You can add more cheese on top as well as some fun crunchies.  We particularly love nuts.  But, French fried onions are equally good. 

Now, you've got the pesto made and the risotto made.  Mix in the pesto until you get a flavor you like.  For our pesto risotto, I browned some pine nuts.  They added the crunch and pizzazz I wanted.  We gave this one a five out of five!

As you'll note, there's a salad in the photos.  It's one of our favorites.  I had dribs and drabs of veggies to use up.  Celery, a small zucchini, a roma tomato, some radishes...  All of that tossed with some homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of dill and we were in business! 

Here's the link to the blue cheese dressing we love:  I will say as time has gone on, I've upped the amount of dry mustard.  We love the tang it gives the dressing!

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