There's something so magical about Risotto with sausage, peppers, and onions. Risotto has the ability to keep its bite and become creamy all at the same time. Risotto welcomes and soaks in whatever flavors you add to it. Sautéed sausages, peppers, and onions create their own amazing liquid that absorbs and compliments the risotto so well.
Risotto with sausage, peppers, and onions are great for fall, but honestly, I could eat this dish all year long.
The risotto possibilities are endless. In the past, I have made my favorite recipe for shrimp scampi and ladled it (along with its butter sauce) over a dish of risotto. A great winter risotto can be made with red wine and beef. What about a spring pesto risotto recipe with seasonal vegetables like asparagus, peas, and leeks?
Risotto is made with short or medium-grain rice, like arborio, and the contains a higher content of a starch called amylopectin. It's this starch that gives the rice the ability to stay firm while releasing some of its starch. It's the slow release of starch that creates risotto's creamy texture.
In the recipe below, I give a quick method for making risotto, but purists would say you should add just ½ cup of hot stock to the rice at a time, stirring and stirring, before you add the next ½ cup of stock. They are probably right, but honestly, I can't tell the difference. Typically, I add just enough liquid to cover the risotto and stir. Once the liquid is absorbed, I pour a second round of stock that just covers the rice. It still takes me about 20 minutes to cook, but saves me from constantly ladling in stock.
If it's your first time making risotto, and follow the traditional method. Later, you can compare the two methods and let me know if you notice a difference.
3 Most Popular Types of Rice to Make Risotto.
Carnaroli: The King or Caviar rice for making risotto. It has the highest level of amylopectin, yielding the creamiest risotto.
Vialone Nano: It is rumored that this rice yields similar results as its cousin, Carnaroli. It is produced in Veneto, Italy, and absorbs the most liquid while still maintaining an al dente texture.
Arborio: Named after the commune of Arborio in the northwestern Italian region of Piedmont, arborio is the most common and widely available type of rice for making risotto.
Once you get the hang of making risotto, experiment. Maybe you prefer Vialone Nano rice to arborio. Maybe you prefer your risotto tighter and decide to use a little less stock. Maybe you want to add ingredients based on the season. You will have so much fun creating ideas for what ingredients to add to your basic risotto recipe. I've had risotto many ways, but risotto with sausage, peppers, and onions might just be my favorite.
Spring Pesto Risotto Recipe with Seasonal Vegetables
For the Risotto
- Extra-virgin olive oil enought to coat the bottom of the pan
- 1 cup diced onions
- 4 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 6-8 cups hot chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 TBSP butter
- ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
For the Mint Pesto
- 1 cup mint leaves packed
- ½ cup parsley leaves packed
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- pinch of salt and pepper
For the Spring Vegetables
- 2 TBSP thinly sliced leeks
- 1 stock asparagus ends removed, blanched, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
- ½ cup peas
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 recipe mint pesto
- 3 slices prosciutto optional
To Make the Risotto
- In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart pot, and on medium heat, pour enough olive oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onions and sauté until onions soften, stirring occasionally (about 3-5 minutes).
- Stir in the rice and let it toast for about two minutes.
- Add 1 cup of white wine and stir.
- Pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the rice. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. The rice will begin to absorb the liquid. (about 5 -7 minutes). Once all the stock is absorbed, pour enough stock to just cover the rice again and cook until absorbed, stirring occasionally. (This is my quick method for making risotto. The traditional way is to add ½ cup of stock at a time, stirring until completely absorbed, and then repeating the process until done.)
- Taste the rice. Is it too al dente? Does it need more salt or pepper? At this point, if you would like to cook it more, I would just add the stock a ½ cup at a time. Continue this process until the rice is cooked to your liking ( you may have stock leftover).
- Pour in the heavy cream and stir until the risotto tightens up a little. Add the butter stirring until completely melted and incorporated into the rice. Stir in grated cheese. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve a generous dollop of risotto into individual bowls adding a spoonful of spring vegetables with mint pesto and its liquid on top.
To Make Mint Pesto
- In a food processor, add mint leaves, parsley leaves, pine nuts, and garlic cloves and pulse until fully blended.
- Continue to pulse as you slowly pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add the juice of ½ a lemon and pulse.
- Season with salt and pepper. Pulse again and set aside.
To Prepare the Vegetables for Spring Pesto Risotto
- Slice your leeks thinly, put them in a bowl of water, and set them aside. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the clean leeks and place them in a colander to drain and dry completely.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water and let it come to a boil. Blanch the asparagus but placing them in a boiling water for a minute or two. Transfer the asparagus to an ice bath to cool. This stops the cooking process and allows the asparagus to remain a vibrant green color. Drain the asparagus and let it dry. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
- Over medium-high heat, melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium-sized pan. Sauté the sliced leeks in the butter for a minute or two. Add the asparagus and peas and sauté for a minute or two more. Add one recipe mint pesto and ½ cup chicken stock and stir. Season with salt and pepper.