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On Your Mark Get Set: Risotto Ruminations

2010 August 31

by Sarah A. Maine

Risotto

The weather in New York City this summer has been a roller coaster – wildly hot humid days followed by wet cool fogginess with rain for days on end.  June was like July, July was like August, and now August is feeling like September – tinged with fall.  As Brianna posted her Summery Squash Salad and tried to keep cool in the San Diego heat, I was wearing a sweatshirt and wondering how I would interpret her recipe.  I had squash and leeks and I wanted to riff off the creaminess of Brianna’s goat cheese infused creation.  I needed something creamy and warm that would be a good back-drop for crunchy yellow squash.  I decided that the most fitting dish for me to attempt would be risotto, a dish that has been on my “things I would like to try to learn how to make” list for a while.

Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is characterized by continuous stirring and the gradual addition of liquid during the cooking process.  This method causes the rice grains to release some of their starch creating a creamy matrix in which the grains – cooked “al dente” so that there is a slight crunch when you bite down – are suspended.  After reading about risotto preparation in The Silver Spoon (pg. 328-339), Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen (pg. 194-198), and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (pg. 516-519) I feel a little intimidated, especially since I am planning on putting my own twist on the recipe.  I want to add the squash at the very end of the cooking process, by doing this I hope to preserve the integrity of its texture and flavor.  I have been encouraged by reading several recipes for risotto with peas, broccoli, and even root vegetables that are stirred in at the last minute, either raw or pre-cooked.  Will it work with squash?  I think it will.  Check back with RecipeRelay on Thursday to see the tasty results!

-Sarah