July 08, 2011

Red Wine Risotto with Basil

"It's summer time, and the livin's easy." -George Gershwin
Ah yes, the lazy days of summer: naps in the hammock, sunbathing by the pool, leisurely picnics in the park, evening strolls, warm breezes... life seems as if it should feel more laid back. Yet, I can't help but feel like the pace is quickening.

Yesterday, I walked into Target and there were back to school signs hanging up. What is this madness? Didn't summer just begin? We finally dig our swimsuits and sprinklers out of storage, and already we are supposed to be thinking about the school year beginning? The idea of children getting excited about shopping for pencils and calculators in July is about as ridiculous as Target now selling "fresh" produce.

And another thing that is happening way to quickly: my baby is almost one year old. I cringe when I even think about it. It seems like he was just born. (Perhaps because lack of sleep makes the last 12 months feel like one long day.)
In the midst of everything happening much faster than I would like it to, there is cooking. Cooking will take as much time as you are willing to devote to it. And sometimes a dish can only be fully enjoyed after lengthy preparation. This risotto falls under that category.

It is very simple to prepare, and really doesn't take that long (about 30 min, start to finish). But, you have to be very attentive to it the entire time. (So, I decided it was a good idea to develop this recipe as James was getting fussy and Lane was working late- why resort to common sense?) The taste and texture of this risotto make the attention it needs completely worth it.

I have one weird request for you as you eat this dish. You see, I love basil. Like, really, really love it. And I developed this recipe with mild flavors so that the basil could be properly show cased. Therefore, I ask that you eat this risotto on its own. I know it sounds odd, but I tried to eat it with a side salad and the strong balsamic vinegar ruined the subtle and delicate tastes of the risotto.
Good grief, does this strange obsessiveness mean I'm truly becoming a foodie? I hope so.

Red Wine Risotto with Basil
serves about 4 as a side dish, 2 or 3 hungry people as a main dish

32 oz container chicken broth (I prefer the "less-sodium" kinds)
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp shallot, chopped
1 cup short-grain rice
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
handful of basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Bring the broth to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Turn burner down to medium to keep broth warm as you make the risotto.
Pour oil into a large sauce pan, add shallots and brown over medium-high heat. Add rice. Stir to coat rice in oil, about 1 minute. Add wine. Stir while wine is absorbed. (Inhale deeply, it's a heavenly scent) Turn temp to medium and begin to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time; adding each time the liquid is almost all the way absorbed. Stir every 30 seconds or so to ensure that the broth is evenly absorbed and the rice is cooked. When all the broth has been used up, turn heat off and stir in parmesan.
Serve with plenty of basil on top of each serving. Enjoy.

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