Let me count the ways, butternut, mushroom and my all-time favourite asparagus. Since we’re going into winter here in the Southern Hemisphere and asparagus is priced at iniquitous levels, I’m going with the mushroom.
It does take patience, huge amounts of patience and stirring, but don’t be tempted to take a shortcut by putting in the stock and sticking it in the oven so you can get on with more important tasks like … like … I dunno, watching television for instance. Pfft. After half an hour when your risotto should be perfectly plump and absorbed, you will find it still swimming in stock and hard as grit.
It’s worthwhile doing properly and yes, you do stir and stir and stir, but as you add the stock the steam rises delightfully, fogging up your glasses, your camera lens, warming up the kitchen. It’s the best thing ever. The best thing. Eva!
Here’s a basic recipe that can be modified for all types of additions :
slab of butter (alright approx 85g) you do need lots of this
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups stock
1 cup parmesan
mushroom, asparagus, butternut (pre-cooked)
Melt butter, add onion to soften, add rice and toast slightly, add stock ladle by ladle, add vegetables just before the last ladle of stock. Add parmesan, put lid on and leave to melt.
If you have shallots, use those instead of the onion, but I’ve yet to see a shallot up close in my country, so until I grow my own I’ll go with the onion. Arborio rice is expensive in these parts, so you can use half barley and half arborio. Barley is very cheap, but using only barley makes it a bit too heavy for my liking. Parmesan is expensive in these parts so you can substitute pecorino.
The vegetables are cooked according to your preference. For mushroom I saute them. For asparagus, I put them in a pan with water and simmer for 3 minutes and add the water to the risotto. Butternut can be roasted. Whatever you smaak. It’s the ultimate nutritious comfort food, and easy to freeze for later. If there’s anything left.