Hello foodies and Italy-lovers! Welcome back to Inevitaly — a fresh take on all things Italian. It’s time to get in the kitchen and cook some delicious Italian food. Today we’re making one of my favorite, most comforting (and versatile) Italian dishes…il risotto.

The key to a good risotto is slow cooking

Before we dive in, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, sign up to our newsletter, and please...repeat after me: risotto! REEZ - OH - TOH. Riso in Italian means rice...I’m sure that’s not surprising.

How to pronounce risotto

Before we get cooking, allow me to share some interesting facts about this Italian classic. Did you know that risotto dates back to the 11th century? It originated in Northern Italy, in my home region: Lombardy — so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular risotti (that’s the plural of risotto) is “il risotto alla milanese” made with saffron (zafferano) and originally from Milan, as its name suggests.

Risotto alla milanese

Risotto is traditionally cooked with special types of rice called Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano. These rice varieties have a high starch content, which gives risotto its signature creamy texture. Here’s my favorite Carnaroli rice available in the US: Acqurello — what makes it special? It’s aged for at least a year, and sometimes up to 7 years!

Acquerello Cooking Rice (5.5 lbs)

Prized Carnaroli rice from Vercelli, in Piemonte. The best rice for preparing risotto. Preferred by chefs all over the world

Buy on Amazon

However, the key to a good risotto is slow cooking. It requires patience and constant stirring, allowing the rice to absorb the broth gradually, resulting in a rich, velvety consistency. Other secrets to a perfect risotto are: Parmesan cheese (obviously) and butter. We’ll get to it!

Risotto is incredibly versatile. You can add various ingredients like vegetables, seafood, or truffles to create a wide array of dishes. You can even make risotto with fruit! Two of my favorites are “Strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar reduction” and “risotto with pears, Gorgonzola blue cheese and walnuts”....mmmm!). That makes risotto perfect for everyone — including vegetarians — and a great alternative to pasta. For a vegan risotto, you can get a similar level of creaminess using soy cooking cream instead of butter.

Valsoia Soya Cooking Cream

Soy cooking cream for a vegan risotto

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The possible combinations of ingredients are endless…but I want to start with the basics. So let’s see how to cook a classic, very simple risotto: il risotto agli asparagi…you guessed it right: that’s asparagus.

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Ingredients for every risotto

Here are the ingredients you need for the base of practically every risotto… For 2 people.

  • The rule of thumb is about 80 g of Arborio or Carnaroli rice per person, so 160 g in our case
  • 1 liter of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • White wine…I picked a Pinot Grigio delle Venezie…but the amazing thing about risotto is that you can make it with prosecco, with champagne…the sky's the limit 🥂
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • And in our case…about 4 asparagus

How to make risotto

Step 1: Sauté the Aromatics…aka make the “soffritto”

Just like all my favorite Italian first courses, let’s start by making a soffritto. In a large pan over medium heat, pour the extra virgin olive oil. When hot, add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until they turn translucent. Then add the finely chopped asparagus and cook for another minute or two.

Step 1: Sauté the Aromatics

Step 2: Toast the Rice

Now, add the rice to the pan. Stir it gently to coat each grain with the oil and aromatics, toasting it for about a minute or until it becomes slightly translucent around the edges.

Step 2: Toast the Rice

Step 3: Deglaze with Wine

Time to add that lovely white wine! Pour it into the pan, stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. In Italian we call it “sfumare col vino”. (Also, this is a great opportunity to test the wine...you know, for quality control reasons 😉)

Step 3: Deglaze with Wine

Step 4: The Art of Stirring and Simmering

Here comes the fun part — gradually add the broth, one ladle at a time. Stir the rice constantly, allowing each ladle of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next one. This process should take around 20 minutes, so grab a spoon and put on your stirring playlist!

Step 4: The Art of Stirring and Simmering

Step 5: Creamy Bliss

Once the rice is cooked and has a creamy consistency, it's time to add the Parmesan cheese. Stir it in until it melts, creating a luscious, cheesy heaven. This is also a good time to season your risotto with salt and pepper according to your taste.

Just like with pasta…make sure you taste your rice. It should be “al dente”, meaning not hard to bite but also not smooshy. There’s nothing worse than a smooshy risotto. Well…raw risotto is probably worse. Don’t worry, this may take some practice, but you’ll master your risotto cooking in no time, I promise. And at the end of the day…feel free to serve it to your own taste (unless Italians are coming for dinner…)

Step 5: Creamy Bliss

Step 6: A final stir with butter

Finally, we bring it all together with butter. Turn off the heat, add a couple teaspoons of butter and stir until fully absorbed. This procedure is called “mantecatura”. It adds some final creamy and delicious texture to your risotto. It’s literally like a hug…that’s why I use my favorite Irish butter 😉

Step 6: A final stir with butter

Ed ecco fatto, il risotto e’ pronto! (By the way, in Italian “pronto” means “ready”…not “quickly”)

Il risotto è pronto!

Creamy, flavorful, and absolutely comforting. Now that you know how to make the base of a risotto, here are a few ideas for you. You can use the same method but swap the asparagus for:

  • Porcini mushrooms
  • Saffron
  • Sausage and radicchio
  • Pumpkin
  • Seafood
  • Lemon and prawns
  • And so on…there are so many recipes!

I know I mentioned meat, and I mentioned fruit…But PLEASE…just like with pasta and pizza…keep the chicken AND the pineapple away! I know you’ll ask me why…and I don’t know how to answer that. It’s just like religion, have blind faith and abstain 😂

As always, you can find our shopping recommendations below, So you can get all the ingredients you need and get started on your risotto right away!

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I hope you enjoyed today's recipe and I’m looking forward to seeing how your risotto turns out. Why don’t you send us some pictures on Facebook, Instagram or via email at ciao@inevitaly.com

Until next time! Arrivederci e buon appetito 😋

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