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risotto
Risotto can be made with ingredients from your pantry. STEVEN DESALVO/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local

STEVEN DESALVO

Food writer Steven DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels. If there’s something you want to know how to make, or you’ve eaten a dish at a local restaurant you’re dying to make at home, drop us a note at culture@montclairlocal.news.

With all of the uncertainty and change we are experiencing in our lives right now, it is sometimes difficult to give much thought to what to eat for dinner (or breakfast and lunch for that matter). If you absolutely do not feel like cooking, give one of your favorite Montclair restaurants a call. A fair amount of them are doing curbside pickup, delivery, and putting together meal kits for you and your family. I know that they would appreciate the business in a time like this. 

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READ: NO HAMETZ ALLOWED: PASSOVER FOOD

READ: COVID-19: SHOPPING SAFELY, WITH HELPING HANDS

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For this month’s recipe, I am providing one of our family’s own recipes for Risotto. 

It is one of my favorites that uses pantry items. (At least what is in our pantry.) 

It is the perfect meal, that takes 30 minutes to put together, and will feed your family for a couple of meals, depending on how much you make. I love it because of its versatility, its deliciousness, and its relative ease. For the purpose of this article, I chose to keep it simple and use staples and frozen vegetables. I used peas and corn, but you can add any vegetable you have in the freezer. I will also include other possible substitutions in the ingredients for this recipe. The nice thing is that there are no wrong answers.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups of short grain rice (arborio, carnaroli, or Sushi-style rice)

1/2 of a large yellow onion, finely diced

4 tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter

1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (You can use any hard cheese you have at home: cheddar, gruyere, etc,. Also if you don’t have any cheese at home, it is fine to omit this. Just be sure to add a bit more salt to compensate for the saltiness of the cheese.)

1 cup frozen corn (feel free to substitute any frozen vegetable)

1 cup frozen peas

Approximately 5 cups of stock. Any kind of stock is okay.

Salt and pepper to taste

Special equipment:

1 large flat bottomed pan, preferably 12-14 inches in diameter.

1 large stock pot for your stock

Process:

  1. Put your stock on the heat. It only needs to be warm.
  2. Heat up the oil in the flat bottom pan. Add the diced onions, a sprinkle of salt, and cook until the onions are translucent, but not brown.
  3. Add the rice to the onions and stir to get it coated in the oil. Cook for about a minute.
  4. Start adding the broth ladleful by ladleful. Keep stirring constantly, making sure that none of the rice sticks on the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Keep stirring the risotto and adding broth only as it starts to evaporate. You will notice the rice increases in size and the liquid becomes consistently thicker.
  6. Cook the rice for approximately 20 minutes, until just under al dente (toothsome. Make sure that you don’t have too much leftover liquid in the rice when the cooking process is close to done.
  7. Add the frozen peas and the frozen corn. Stir them in and cook for 2 additional minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, if you’re adding any. 

There are so many ways that you can alter this risotto recipe, based on what leftover food you have in the house. You can add diced ham. You can soak dried mushrooms in wine and strain and add that to your stock (Reduce amount of stock to compensate). Don’t be afraid to try any sort of combination. It will probably be delicious. The whole point of this recipe is for you to be able to throw it together without giving it much thought. 

This risotto recipe provides simplicity and satisfaction, which are vital in these trying times. 

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