No, this is not a dessert. It’s a main, a proper risotto. A recipe mainly popular in north of Italy; born in the 70’s when the classic saffron risotto was already famous and appreciated everywhere. It’s not on my menu very often, not because the combination rice-strawberry sounds strange to me but mainly because I love the fresh taste of raw strawberries and I wouldn’t think of processing what mother nature made already perfect .
Last week I bought too many strawberries (I guess I buy what the market offers at the best price) so I had to make up something in order not to waste a great part of them. Risotto alle Fragole (strawberry risotto) came up in my mind (after finding this great blog post), as something I’ve eaten eaten a few times in my life but intriguing and simple enough to experiment with no fear of failure. I was sure about the outcome: strawberries are never over flavoured when cooked. They do not add sweet notes but a fruity aroma that goes well with the creaminess of a risotto.
Before you try your hand at this delicate-pink recipe, let me tell you that although any risotto recipe is pretty simple to implement, you must pay attention to its preparation from start to finish (unless you want to throw the pan because rice has attached to the bottom while you were on the phone). I was personally so concentrated at stirring the risotto that I overlooked all the rest (I asked someone else to open the bottle of white wine, see the tragic outcome in the pic below). This version is definitely simple and light, however I offer you the option to make it tastier with the addition of cheese and mascarpone. Your call!
- half chopped onion (or shallot)
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 2 cups (400 g) short-grained rice (Arborio is my choice)
- 100 ml sparkling wine
- 5-6 strawberries, hulled and finely sliced
- 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese or cream (optional, for a tastier risotto and more calories!)
- Put the finely chopped onion in a pan and saute' on low heat with butter.
- Add the rice and let it toast for 1 minute or so, stirring constantly. Add some water (2 cups should be enough at this stage). Add the wine and stir.
- Meanwhile, wash the strawberries, cut them into slices and add them to the pot where the rice is cooking. Set some strawberries aside to decorate the finished plate.
- Back to the rice: once the rice has absorbed all the water, add mascarpone (skip it for a lighter version) and some water more if the rice is not cooked yet. Stir and cook until the rice is ready.
- Serve with strawberries on top and some grated cheese.