When fall and winter roll around, bitter greens like radicchio and Belgian endive have great appeal, raw or cooked. They feel seasonally right. I have been trying to thin down anything bulky in the refrigerator to prepare for the upcoming holidays, so when I spied a bunch of not so tightly bunched radicchio, cooking a whole head for a dinner risotto had a double benefit. Risotto is not hard to make, and it is not particularly time-consuming when you realize that it can be a meal-in-one in about 30 minutes, including a little prep time.
Sometimes when I make vegetable-laden risotto, I cook the rice and vegetable separately (as in the case of asparagus, which could reduce to slime if cooked with the rice) but here, the time needed to cook the greens and the rice is about even, so they go into the pot together. The radicchio dyes the rice a violet-brown, but that’s okay for this season. Any vegetable exudes liquid, so the amount of stock being added will be diminished. In this version, I used a good amount of greens in proportion to rice, but that can easily be adjusted according to preference. I also like my risotto pretty firm. Add more broth and stir it up if you like it creamier.
Vegetarians can use vegetable stock instead of chicken and dairy-free folk can simply omit the butter and cheese. This would be terrific served with roasted acorn squash slices, which have a similar mouth-feel and a great complementary color.
½ medium onion, diced
Olive oil and/or butter (about 1 tbsp combined)
1 medium head radicchio, cut in half lengthwise and in ¼-inch ribbons crosswise (1½-2 cups)
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup white wine
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Saute the onion slowly in the oil and/or butter. Add the radicchio and stir to coat, turning the heat up to medium-high to start it cooking (browning a little is okay). Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the white wine and stir to allow it to evaporate and also instill the ingredients with flavor. Add 1/3 cup of stock, turn the heat to medium low or low (so it just simmers) and stir until the stock is absorbed. The liquid from the vegetables will start to express, so the process of adding stock may be slower than in other risottos. When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/3 cup of stock, wait until it’s absorbed, stirring occasionally, and then repeat until the rice is tender but still al dente. This process will take about 20-25 minutes. Add grated cheese, season to taste, garnish and serve.
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