We’re almost through the worst, you guys. It’s the final week of February, and March feels like the hope of spring is JUST around the corner! But until then, let’s go ahead and continue with the comfort food train.
Risotto is one of my favorite things to make on a night in. Especially when it’s snowing for the 874th time this month.
And especially on a night when the soul needs a little TLC – yes, in the form of 90s jams – but also in the form of meditative stirring, wine sipping, and aromatic smells.
Risotto gets a bad rap – it takes too long, you have to stir it too much, it’s finicky – yada yada. Yes, you have to stir, and if you don’t find anything comforting or theraputic in cooking a good meal, you might not like making it.
But I assure you, it’s not as finicky as it’s rumored to be. It’s quite forgiving, actually.
How to Make Risotto
There are a few commonalities between all risottos. And a few things that make this one a bit different.
First, risottos start with an aromatic blend of onion and garlic sauteing in olive oil. This time around, we’re adding carrot and leeks to the mix. Just wait for the smells that start to take over your kitchen!
In goes the arborio rice to start its journey to become a creamy, luxurious, butter-rich risotto dish.
Then – the best part – the wine deglazes the pan and it’s the first drink the arborio rice gets. Add in some red pepper flakes for a tiny kick of spice and some thyme for a comforting herb addition.
Now here’s the key to risotto, and why some people are fearful of going for it: bit by bit, a little vegetable stock is added to the risotto, stirring between each addition until its absorbed. Overall, this takes about 20-30 minutes.
The art of cooking comes into play here, you’ll need to test the rice towards the end and determine how al dente it is – and about how much longer you need to keep stirring.
Really hard rice? Keep on adding in the broth bit by bit as it absorbs!
Just a bit of a chew? Like an al dente pasta? Go ahead and add the finishing touches, your risotto is on its way!
The key here – as is with any sort of stove top cooking – is to add salt in layers. Start with your veggie mix as it layers, and be sure to test the salt at the end when the parm goes in (as it’s kind of salty too!).
Carrots and Leeks
The winning combination in this risotto. Thanks to my mama, who one day was whipping up a risotto with what she had available, this combination quickly became a family favorite.
The carrots add a subtle sweetness and the leeks provide a mild, delicate onion flavor to the risotto.
To take it over the top? CRISPY LEEKS!
I had some leftover leeks and thought, onion rings are amazing (right?) so some crispy leeks can only be equally amazing, and an added texture component on top of risotto.
Yes, thank you, more please.
What to Serve with Risotto
I roasted up some extra carrots to serve along side this risotto – because who doesn’t love some melt-in-your-mouth caramelized roasted carrots?
But if you’ve had your fill of veggies in the risotto, sauteed shrimp, seared scallops, or even steak (if you eat meat, of course) would all be excellent as a protein addition!
Love Risotto? Check out these recipes!
Creamy Carrot Leek Risotto
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup yellow onion diced
- 2 medium leeks ~1 cup, white and green parts cleaned well* and diced
- 1 1/2 cups carrots diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine I prefer dry
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 3 TBSP butter
- Optional: squeeze lemon
- Parsley for garnish
- 1 leek
- 1/2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, leek, and carrots; saute for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. You'll want the carrots to be par-cooked, as they'll continue cooking with the risotto. Stir in red pepper flakes and thyme. Add pinches of salt throughout the cooking process to layer flavor!
- Stir in arborio rice to coat with veggies and let toast for about 1 minute. Slowly add wine and stir to combine. Let the wine absorb.
- Add vegetable stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring between each addition and letting it fully absorb into the rice. Begin testing the rice for doneness after adding approximately 3 cups of stock in total. Continue adding broth and stirring until absorbed until rice reaches the desired level of "al dente" (a bit of chew, but you don't want it hard or crunchy!). I usually end up adding all 4 cups of broth.
- Remove risotto from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and butter until combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a squeeze of lemon for a bit of brightness and garnish with parsley and/or additional parmesan cheese. Oh, and crispy leeks if you know what's good for you! 😉
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Trim the end of the leek and the dark green parts off. Cut down the middle of the leek, and then cut again halfway crosswise (the short end). Leave the layers intact so you can easily cut into thin strips. Place in a bowl of warm water and stir around to clean. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Toss leeks in olive oil, then in the flour mixture. Spread in an even layer on a small baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden and crispy.