For most of my adult life, I have not eaten risotto because of my cheese issue (basically, I don’t eat cheese) and always understood risotto to be made with cheese. But a coupla years ago while looking for recipes to use in my Cooking Wars class, I came across a recipe that mentioned that I did not have to use cheese if I did not want to.
It got me thinking and after a few more hours of research, I figured out what I needed to do. And seeing the wealth of ingredients that you could add to the risotto made me add this wonderful dish to my syllabus.
I made a version without cheese and I have been hooked. I usually don’t add much to the risotto just a few favored ingredients: sun dried tomatoes, peas and my fav – roasted red peppers. I tend to find peas are too bland and as much as I generally love them, I don’t add them to the risotto that often. I love the tangy-ness umami flavor of sun-dried tomatoes. You know that they are in the dish and just seems to work very well with the rest of the risotto flavor. Roasted red peppers have the smokey, sweetness that is hard to ignore.
The other thing about this version of risotto is that it is almost dairy free. If you eliminated the butter at the beginning and just used EVOO, it would be dairy free. While I do sometimes add cream as part of the finishing act, I generally don’t like cream dishes (other than chicken pot pie), I often skip this ingredient. Yes there is no doubt that eliminating the cream and the butter at the end will change the flavor some what, I personally like it and if you are trying to use less dairy in your dishes, this is a recipe to try for sure.
The other ingredient I use that I have not seen in many recipes (as in I’ve yet to see a recipe that included it) is garlic. I add finely grated garlic to the onion about 1 or 2 minutes before I add the rice. I believe it adds more flavor especially because I am not adding additional butter, cream or cheese.
Add butter and oil to the pot.
Add the onion to the butter mixture and cook until just translucent. Add a pinch or two of salt once the onion has softened.
Add the grated garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Next add the rice.
Add a pinch of salt and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to toast the rice.
Next add about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and cook stirring occasionally. Continue to add the chicken broth once the previous batch has been absorbed by the rice.
Once you have reached the right consistency and texture, remove from the stove. I added the roasted red peppers and mixed well.
All done. Honestly, every time I eat risotto, I am reminded why this is one of those to divine dishes and why people love it so much. Yum!!!
Check out the recipe below …