Strawberry Risotto

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Reading the fall issue of La Cucina Italiana magazine, I noticed an announcement for the fall release of the newest edition of Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, The Silver Spoon. If you missed the culinary hoopla when the first English edition was released in the U.S. (in 2005), The Silver Spoon is a tome (1263 pages) of recipes collected from Italy's home cooks. It first was first published in Italy in the 1950's, and continues to be updated. Cooks revere it for its simple instruction and peek into authentic regional Italian recipes.

I grabbed my 2006 edition off the shelf and flipped through the vegetable chapter to get some inspiration for a meatless meal. But it was a recipe in Primi Piatti, first courses that grabbed my attention. Strawberries, cream and dry white wine. The ingredients made me think it was dessert disguised as a first plate. But a spoonful revealed that the onions added enough savory flavor to keep it out of the sweet category. This recipe for Strawberry Risotto is a recipe for summertime in a bowl.

recipe after the jump

Risotto Alle Fragole-Strawberry Risotto-serves 4
adapted from The Silver Spoon

Use ripe strawberries! The onion and strawberries play off each other to blend and flavor the risotto. The dish goes nicely with a salad of Italian lettuces (radicchio, baby romaine) and a glass of Prosecco.

6-¼ cups vegetable stock
7 Tablespoons of butter
1 onion, small dice
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1-½ cups dry white wine
2 3'4 cups strawberries, hulled
1-cup light cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a saucepan bring the stock to a boil.
2. In another saucepan, melt half the butter; add onion and cook over low heat, stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
3. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated in butter.
4. Pour in the wine and cook until wine evaporates.
5. Add one ladle of hot stock to the rice, continue to cook and stir until the liquid evaporates.
6. Continue to add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, and stir until each addition is absorbed. (18-20 minutes)
7. Set a few whole strawberries aside and mash the remainder.
8. About half way through the cooking, add the mashed berries to the risotto.
9. When the rice is almost tender, stir in the cream and remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
10. Garnish with the reserved berries.

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