Italian cooking is a lot like Italian language. The dialects and meanings change from town to town, and even house to house. And, as it traveled across the ocean, both morphed into an Americanized version that bares a resemblance to the genuine article.
Take risotto, for example. The Mother-In-Law makes her mother’s risotto (pronounced RIZ-ahwt), which is more like a bolognese with rice. The end product is a very tasty tomato and beef sauce combined with regular long-grain rice. No arborio. No constant stirring and ladling of hot broth. It doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional risotto, but that does not make The MIL’s risotto any less authentic.
Her risotto got me thinking about how tomatoes would work within the risotto. After all, the risotto’s success is based on sauce thickened by the stock and rice starch. Would it thin out the sauce? Well, the answer is yes. The end sauce is a little more thinned out, but not badly. By reducing the stock (I might have used 3 cups of stock for 1 cup of rice), the tomatoes create just enough volume to make up for the loss in liquid.
WHAT WORKED: The rappi. The bitter greens offer a sharp, complementary contrast to the salty, creamy risotto.
WHAT DIDN’T: Fontina cheese. It’s not that it didn’t work, but it really didn’t add anything. If I made this again, I would use the saltier parmesan cheese to add a more defined flavor.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy.
BEST FOR: Meatless Monday or any night when you are looking for a quick meal, or a side dish that goes nicely with grilled chicken or fish.
SERVE WITH: Dry white wine.
Broccoli Rappi Risotto
By Jared Paventi
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 bunch rappi, stems trimmed, roughly chopped, and washed and drained thoroughly
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 16 oz. chicken stock
- 14 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- 8 oz. grated fontina cheese
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
In a Dutch oven or large saute pan, melt 1 tbsp. butter. Add the rappi and stir fry 5 minutes, coating in butter, until well wilted. Add the onion and carrot, cooking until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and garlic, stirring until the garlic is very fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour the wine in the pot and cook until evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes to the pan, and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven and bake 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and stir to redistribute with a large wooden spoon. Add the cheese and remaining butter, and continue stirring until well combined.