Keywords: entree gluten-free vegetarian rice strawberries cheese Italian spring summer
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 12 oz. [340 g] strawberries, organic or pesticide-free
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) of good quality
- 1 teaspoon sugar, possibly ultra-fine
- 1/2-1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot (scalogno)
- 1 cup [200 g] Vialone Nano, Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons [30 ml] white wine, not cold
- 2 cups [475 ml] vegetable broth, possibly homemade + 1 cup [235 ml] water to make a light vegetable broth
- Sea salt, to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Wash strawberries and carve out stem. Place in a bowl, sprinkle balsamic vinegar and sugar on them, and toss gently. Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat that is wider and longer than the sheet, so no juice can escape from any side. Place strawberries on the sheet on a single layer. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let strawberries cool slightly, then cut them (lengthwise) into 4-6 pieces, depending on their size. Set aside a dozen pieces to garnish the bowls at serving time.
Bring broth and water to a simmer in a 1 qt. saucepan and keep it at that temperature (you may not need it all, depending on the variety of rice you use). In a 2 qt. saucepan, warm up olive oil, then add the shallot and stir. Cook for a few minutes until the shallot is translucent, then add the rice.
Toast the rice for one minute, while stirring, then add the wine. Let the wine evaporate, while stirring the rice, then add enough of the simmering broth to barely cover the rice. Allow the rice to absorb most of the broth, then add more broth, a ladleful at a time, letting the rice absorb most of the broth before adding more. Make sure the rice never gets dry, keep it at a lively simmer and stir at regular intervals.
If the strawberries are cold, warm them up (in the microwave, use the defrost option to do this; otherwise, keep the bowl where they are on top of the pan with the broth). Ten minutes after the first addition of broth, pour strawberries and their juice into the pan and stir well. Make sure the rice comes back to a lively simmer. Continue cooking the rice as before, adding simmering broth as needed.
Taste the rice 6 minutes after the addition of strawberries: if it feels a bit hard at the core, cook it a minute or two longer, then check again. (The cooking time depends on various factors, including the kind of rice.) If cold, warm up the strawberry pieces you set aside earlier.
Risotto should be soft and creamy, but with some body (slightly al dente). Remove the pan from the heat, add a bit of salt and the cheese and stir well to incorporate. Taste and adjust the salt, if needed. Let the risotto rest, covered, for a couple of minutes while you gather the guests around the table. Plate and decorate with the strawberry pieces . Serve immediately and enjoy.