Eats: Homemade Parmesan Risotto with Toasted Pine Nuts and Homemade Pesto

photo (1)My Basil has been growing gangbusters on my deck, clearly it was time for pesto.

Modern Sauces

When I find recipes I like I have a funny way of keeping them and then mixing them all together into something new (for me). This recipe in particular is a brain child mix of adaptations from some of my favorite simple recipes: Modern Sauces’ Basic Pesto, a basic Parmesan risotto and toasted pine nuts. The pine nuts are an idea that I pulled from a pasta recipe my mother found in “O” magazine about three years ago. She loves finding new things she’d like to try and bringing them to me, the standard deal is she’ll buy the ingredients if I’ll put it together. I’ve had some of my favorite dishes due to my mother’s intrepid detective work.

I’m going to dish this out in individual bits and tell you how to put it all together at the end, that way you can make and enjoy the components on their own! I always start with a parmesan risotto base, the rich, savory taste lends itself to so many ingredients that I find it to be a reliable and delicious go-to.  In fact you may recognize the basic instructions from my Sweet Pepper and Parmesan Risotto!

Parmesan Risotto (approx. 45 minutes)

What You’ll Need

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, chopped (or a small half an onion if you’re sadly shallot-less)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

What To Do

  1. In a medium-sized stock pot keep the chicken stock warm (medium high heat), but don’t bring to a boil. In a separate large stock pot, heat the olive oil and 1 TBS of butter until butter is completely melted but not browned.
  2. Add the chopped or diced shallot (or your half a small onion here) and sauté on medium heat until the shallots are tender and slightly translucent/fragrant. **This whole recipe will make your kitchen smell GREAT!**
  3. Then add the Arborio rice to the large stock pot stirring frequently until the rice is evenly coated in the olive oil/butter mixture and begins to become clear (approx. 2-3 minutes) but not browned. You’ll notice it has a slight nutty smell under all that shallot/onion.
  4. Pour in the wine and stir frequently.
  5. Once it has been fully absorbed (no liquid left on the bottom of the pot) start ladling in the chicken stock, a half a cup at a time. After each half cup is added, stir frequently and wait to add the next half of a cup until all of the stock is absorbed into the rice. **This is the time-consuming part, I’ve made this over and over and it really is worth it to wait until there is no liquid on the bottom (which is devastatingly difficult when it smells so good and you just want it to be done!). When in doubt just wait a little longer… and find someone with a steady stirring hand to take over…**
  6. Continue to add the stock slowly until all of it is gone. Then add the remaining 1 TBSP of butter and parmesan into the risotto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. **I start with 1 tsp of salt, if you plan to add the pesto, be aware that it will add a considerable amount of salt so 1 tsp is typically enough. If you’re skipping the pesto just salt to taste!**
  7. Serve piping hot or mix in your other ingredients!

Simple Basil Pesto (5 mins)

I LOVE pesto. I practically lived off of it while I was living in Italy, well that and iced coffees (they put their coffee in MARTINI glasses! It’s so adorable looking – I still do that for guests to make coffee feel like a treat. Though I do get odd looks when I first set the glass down…). This is a very simple and delicious pesto that packs big flavor into a small amount, perfect to be mixed in a risotto! It’s definitely not your supermarket pesto. If you’re looking for variations on pesto (like adding almonds, parsley or other fun ingredients), pick up Modern Sauces. Martha Holmberg has dreamed up a bevy of different variations.

What You’ll Need

  • Food Processor! (Curious to know: has anyone tried this in a blender?)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (1 for subtle garlic lovers, 2 for those who love garlic)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups Basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Fine grind sea salt (but table salt works too!)
  • 2/3 cup parmesan (or Parmesan-reggiano or Reggiano or even a mix of all/any three)

What To Do

  1. With your handy-dandy food processor and the regular non-serrated metal blade, pile in the basil, garlic pine nuts, and 1 tsp of the salt. Close it up and use the pulse setting until your basil resembles sand (ie. coarsely ground up but with all the ingredients equally mixed in).
  2. Add the olive oil slowly while the processor is on (typically there is a portion on the top of the processor that opens for exactly this reason) once the olive oil is integrated and the pesto looks like it’s the appropriate consistency, stop.
  3. Finally add the cheese! Pour it in and pulse until it’s fully integrated. At this point you can add salt to taste.

Toasted Pine Nuts: (5-8 minutes)

The last piece to the puzzle and often seen in my recipes. These pine nuts add a satisfying crunch and roasted flavor. Toss ’em into anything or, like my boyfriend, eat them straight out of the pan.

What You’ll Need

  •  1 cup of pine nuts
  1. Toss your pine nuts into a small skillet on medium heat and, for lack of a better word, “stir” until browned. The occasional stir will turn the nuts and keep them from burning.

Final Step:

  1. Mix  2-3 TBS of Pesto into your risotto, give it a try and add more to taste. Stir until it’s completely integrated.
  2. Mix in all of the pine nuts.

That’s it! The whole recipe really only takes about 50 minutes and even less if you’ve got a helper in the kitchen. I like to keep some pesto on the table so that it can be added to the individual tastes of my family and friends.

Note on Pesto storage: Pesto can be refrigerated in an air tight container or a container sealed with plastic wrap. So keep the leftovers and make a yummy pesto, mozzarella, tomato and chicken Panini the next day!

I’m also learning to make Indian food, my latest obsession. So Once I get the hang of it, it may end up here! MMMMM Chicken Biryani!

Feel Like Dessert? May I recommend Sprinkle Bakes Puffy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies? I just made them and they are AMAZING! Not feeling cookies? She also has a to die fora vanilla bean baked donut recipe!

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