so, baked risotto. did y’all know about this already and no one told me or is this news to you too? because it’s a total game changer. making risotto just got 86% less annoying and 74% more likely to happen for dinner. on a weeknight. for serious.
‘member how risotto usually requires standing over a hot stove, stirring a pot for about 23 years? yeah, we’re not doing that. besides the obvious benefits (such as not having your arm fall off from exhaustion), the individual risotto grains also stay a bit more intact, which i prefer. i’m not sure whether that’s more “authentic”, but i’m quite clear that authenticity is not really my top priority on a tuesday night. dinner. now. cooking itself while my hands are free to snack on cheese and crackers. those are my priorities.
and lo, this risotto achieves all of my priorities! well, not “now” as in “instantly”, but “now” as in “soon, and with minimal effort”, which is close enough for me. there’s hardly any chopping (just an onion, if you buy presliced mushrooms which, shhhhh, i do…) and once you slide the burbling pot into the oven, you have about 20 minutes to get any other dinner components ready. (though i won’t judge if there is no such thing as “other dinner components” and you just warm yourself over a bowl of this baked risotto.)
as far as the rest of the ingredients, i recommend getting nice canned tomatoes (i’m partial to tuttorosso), since they will be responsible for a bunch of the flavor. along similar lines, definitely don’t skip the tomato paste; it’s crucial. i made a version of this risotto without it and resorted to adding little bits of tomato paste to my bowl of leftovers as i heated it up because the paste makes such a difference. on the flip side, i list red wine in the ingredients and i do like it that way but you should feel free to substitute chicken (or veggie) broth for the wine, if you prefer.
other than that, it’s pretty straightforward. baked risotto for the tuesday night win!
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 oz. (227 g.) sliced white button mushrooms
- 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 7 oz. (1 cup / 198 g.) arborio rice
- 8 fl. oz. (1 cup / 237 ml) red wine (or chicken/veggie broth)
- 28 oz. (794 g.) good quality canned diced tomatoes, with their juice
- 16 fl. oz. (2 cups / 473 ml) water
- 8 oz. (227 g.) baby spinach
- ¼ cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
- pecorino romano (or parmesan), for serving
- make sure your oven racks are adjusted such that a large dutch oven or oven safe soup pot with lid will fit in the oven. preheat the oven to 425° F.
- in the large dutch oven or oven safe soup pot with lid, heat the oil over medium heat. once hot, add the onion and mushrooms. sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is nearly translucent and the mushrooms are a light golden brown. add the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, for one minute. add the tomato paste and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- add the rice and stir until everything is well combined. cook for one minute, then add the wine, tomatoes with their juice, and water. stir and bring to a boil over high heat. once boiling, stir again, put the lid on the pot, and transfer the pot to the oven. bake for 20 – 22 minutes, until the grains of rice are tender. the liquid should also be absorbed by this point (if not, leave the lid off and cook it for a few more minutes; it will also absorb liquid as it sits after it comes out of the oven so a bit of extra liquid is fine).
- remove the pot from the oven and immediately stir the spinach in. it will seem like too much at first but it will wilt quickly and it will all work out.
- serve immediately with fresh basil and pecorino cheese.
leftover risotto keeps well in an airtight container, either in the refrigerator or freezer (freeze individual portions for a lunch gift to your future self). reheat in the microwave, adding a few teaspoons of broth or water if the risotto seems too thick.
risotto baking technique adapted from floating kitchen's baked spring vegetable risotto.
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