Ditch the Pumpkin Spice, Fall into Italian Rice

Fall is upon us, and whether we like it or not, we have to come to terms with the fact that the weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing color, and our wardrobes are changing. One of my favorite things about autumn are the delicious foods that become in season during this time of the year. A great recipe that I made with my mom frequently during the colder months last year and have come to adore is risotto. Risotto is a surprisingly easy Italian rice dish that is a delicious and customizable one pot meal. Me and my mom’s favorite types of risotto are butternut squash, mushroom, and asparagus. The basics of any risotto are essentially the same, and the recipe varies when it comes to the flavor of the dish. Here is the recipe that I use that has always been successful for me (all measurements can be adjusted or eyeballed, in all honesty):

  • 1 cup of arborio rice; about ⅓ cup per person is a main course size (arborio rice is a must for risotto– it has a higher starch content than usual rice, which makes the risotto creamier)
  • About 4-6 cups of stock (I always use mushroom stock made by adding dried mushrooms to a pot of water and letting it simmer. You can also use any kind of vegetable or chicken stock.)
  • ½ a large onion or 1 whole shallot
  • ½ cup of white wine (I usually add more)
  • ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons
  • About 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Risotto should ideally be cooked in a heavy-bottomed pot, but any pot with a large surface area will work. Start by adding the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a hot pot. While the butter melts and the oil heats up, dice the onion, and add it to the pot. Let the onion soften for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Once the onion starts becoming translucent, add in the rice, allowing it to toast in the pot for a few minutes. Be careful during this step — it is crucial that you stir the rice around and keep the pot on low heat so that the rice does not burn. Then add the white wine, stirring thoroughly. Once the liquid has absorbed, add the stock in half-cup increments, letting it absorb into the rice almost completely before adding the next increment. Stir the rice constantly throughout this process. Add the stock until the rice is finished cooking, which I usually determine by taste. After the rice is sufficiently cooked, add in some mashed butternut squash, sautéed mushrooms, steamed asparagus, or whatever you want to the risotto. Once your ingredients have been incorporated, add salt and pepper to taste, and finish with the parmesan cheese and remaining butter.

That’s all there is to it! Making risotto does take a bit of time, but the process itself is fairly simple, and you can make a large quantity of it ahead of time and reheat it by adding a little stock and putting it in the microwave. Risotto is a delicious, filling fall meal that I hope you all try at home!

Hannah Welles is a first-year at Barnard and is a writer for Barnard Bite.

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