Risotto is the latter-day macaroni-and-cheese. The two share a cheesy creaminess that is the very soul of comfort, as well as an amiable nature that welcomes additions.
The sweet nature of shrimp is a natural pal for creamy risotto, and tomato adds a tart counterpoint to the shrimp and the rice.
And like mac and cheese, it’s a meal in a pot.
If you’re worried that risotto was beyond your skill set, stop it. The process takes about 30 minutes, start to finish, and the last 20 minutes require limited attention. While the risotto simmers, you’ll have plenty of time to make a salad and set the table.
Arborio and carnaroli rice for risotto – you can’t fake it, the starchy nature of these specific rices give the risotto it’s signature creamy texture — are available at most local supermarkets, as well as Trader Joe’s. If you want to use something a little more stylish, Pasta Shop stores have a good selection of imported rices for risotto.
- 1 1/2-cups risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled (size 31-40/pound)
- 5 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 1/2-cup dry white wine
- 3/4-cup tomato pesto (make it yourself, here’s the link), or 1 15-ounce can of can diced tomatoes
- 2 ounces (1/2-cup grated) Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1-teaspoon sugar
- 1/4-cup olive oil – divided
- Bring the broth to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add the shrimp, and cook until justpink and opaque, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove the shrimp from the broth and set aside. Keep the broth at a low simmer. If you’re using diced, canned tomatoes instead of tomato pesto, stir them, undrained, into the broth now.
- Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan, and cook the chopped onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for about one minute, then add two more tablespoons of olive oil and stir in the rice.
- Cook and stir the rice over medium heat until it looks translucent, 2-3 minutes, then stir in the white wine. Continue to cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed, about 1 minute. If you’re not using wine, move on to step five.
- Stir in 2 cups of the simmering broth, and lower the heat under rice to a low simmer. Let the rice cook, uncovered, until the broth is absorbed, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you forget to stir the rice, nothing bad will happen, but stirring does enhance the creaminess of the risotto.
- When the first addition of broth is absorbed, stir in another two cups of simmering broth, and cook until absorbed, another 5-7 minutes. The broth is kept at a simmer so that when it’s added to the risotto, it will be hot enough to keep the cooking process going.
- Stir in the last of the broth, and cook until it begins to be absorbed but is still a little soupy – about 3 minutes — then stir in the remaining ingredients, the tomato pesto, sugar, grated Parmesan and the shrimp. If the risotto is still a little loose, it’s easier to add the remaining ingredients.
- Cook, stirring, until the risotto is creamy and no longer soupy, about 5 minutes.
- Serve, drizzled with additional olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.