I hardly EVER make risotto.

Ain’t that a crying shame? Because on a good day, when all ingredients align in your fridge, and you have a couple extra minutes in the evening to make dinner, and you just have a hankering for a gooey, perfectly seasoned rice dish… it’s like the best dinner in the entire world.

I would definitely eat this risotto again, made by a blogging friend over at Liberal Simplicity. While I wasn’t able to follow her recipe to a T, I was able to produce something I THINK was similar to hers πŸ˜‰ If you want to view her original recipe (And you should), please see her post on it here.

Drizzle of olive oil in heated pan
1 yellow onion, chopped
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup Italian Arborio (risotto) rice
1-1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 – 2 cups of extra water on the side
1 cup tomato sauce
About 2 cups Parmesan cheese (I used 1, but I could have been persuaded to use 2!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan (I used one that I could transfer to the oven!), combine the oil, onion, and a medium pinch of sea salt over moderate heat. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the rice, stirring to coat with the oil, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth (or chicken stock) and tomato sauce, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat.

Stir in half of the cheese mix well. Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the rice is cooked through and has absorbed most of the liquid. This took about 10 minutes. I came back to stir it and decided to add about 1/2 cup of water to the mixture so it wouldn’t dry out. I came back every 10 minutes and did similarly until the rice had cooked for about 35-40 minutes. The baked rice should be moist but not soupy, and the cheese will melt and bubble.

Serves 4 as a main dish. YUM.

If you want to heighten the flavors of this dish, I suggest the following:

Before putting the onions and oil in the pan, cook up some bacon. Reserve a few tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan after the bacon is cooked. Add onions to bacon fat and cook. When you get to the step where you add cheese to the dish, add in crumbled bacon. Toss in some minced fresh garlic. Bake as usual. Take out and garnish with chopped green onions.

If you want something a bit more substantial as a main dish, but still want to keep it vegetarian-friendly, I suggest the following:

Cook onions, chopped mushrooms and oil in pan. When you get to the step where you add cheese to the dish, add a handful or two of fresh, chopped spinach. Toss in some minced fresh garlic and a little bit of chives and some fresh paprika OR sweet tarragon and some freshly cracked red peppercorns.

Do you have a favorite risotto dish? Mind sharing? πŸ™‚