Homemade risotto is the ultimate Italian comfort food. This bright, flavorful dish is surprisingly simple to make, and can be enjoyed any time of year. The price of risotto at many restaurants would seem to suggest that it is difficult or time-consuming, but in fact it is quite easy and does not take long at all. This delicious risotto combines fresh golden carrots with tangy feta cheese, stirred gently with sharp flavors of minced garlic, lemon, fragrant dill, and white wine. And since it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, it is the perfect weeknight dinner.
The secret to making risotto is to use a short-grained Italian rice like Arborio. It has a high starch content which is released during cooking and gives risotto its rich creaminess. Also, the technique of slowly adding broth while continuously stirring ensures that the rice absorbs all the savory flavors while keeping its delicate al dente texture.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Moosewood, but we added garlic, a touch of ginger, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little heat. We also deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, which is a traditional step that loosens any caramelized onions and brings out their sweet flavor. This colorful risotto is light, healthy, and satisfying, and is the perfect way to bring Italian comfort food into your home.
Risotto with Carrots and Feta
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
5 cups vegetable broth
18 ounces carrots, sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, plus more to serve
Place the vegetable broth in a medium saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Add the sliced carrots, bring back to a boil, then cover pan and reduce heat to a simmer.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and olive oil. When hot, add the diced onion and sauté until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the rice and minced garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice kernels start to turn clear, about a minute or two. Then add the dill, ginger, and optional red pepper flakes, stirring to combine. Add the white wine, and stir until it is absorbed. Ladle a cup of the simmering broth and carrots into the rice, and stir until it is absorbed. Keep adding a cup of broth and carrots every few minutes, once the previous cup has been absorbed. Continue, stirring frequently, until all broth and carrots have been added, and the rice is tender.
Once all broth is absorbed, remove the risotto from heat and add the lemon juice and feta, stirring until smooth and creamy. Taste for salt and lemon and adjust as needed. Let the risotto rest for 10 minutes, then serve with additional feta cheese at the table.
— Because the vegetable broth adds so much flavor to this dish, be sure to use one you like. We use The Organic Gourmet Vegetable Bouillon Cubes.