CEiMB: Garden Risotto

This week’s CEiMB recipe, Garden Risotto, was picked by Jessica at A Singleton in the Kitchen. Jessica prepares really delicious looking food and manages to make obnoxious little boys in Whole Foods sound funny. I really enjoy her blog, but, I have to admit, I did groan a little when I read that she chose risotto. You see, risotto and I have a love-hate relationship. I have only made it twice, which would also be the same number of times I’ve eaten it.

My first time out of the gate, I tried a Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto from Cooking Light. I had no idea that making risotto was so time-consuming, and I managed to give myself my worst cooking-related injury to date by slicing open my finger during prep. Top that with the fact that I wasn’t too crazy about the finished product, and I was rightfully a little gun-shy about risotto. I didn’t want to give up though because I always hear people raving about risotto, and I just knew there must be something worthwhile about it.

For my second attempt, I tried Parmesan Risotto from Weight Watchers. The whole time I was making it, I kept thinking, “This better be worth it,” and it was. I deemed it “lick the bowl good”. Unfortunately, it was 8 POINTS for a serving that didn’t come close to filling me up; that’s a lot of POINTS for a side item, in my opinion, and thus my love affair with risotto ended. I decided then and there that risotto and I were just not meant to be together. I hate standing over a hot stove, stirring endlessly, and I hate leaving the dinner table hungry, no matter how good the meal was. Even though we were breaking up, I thought we could still be friends who visited every once and again for special occasions.

I desperately tried to keep an open mind about this vegetable-laden risotto even once I saw spinach among the list of ingredients. I tried to like it. I tried to enjoy the process of making it. I tried, but I’m now convinced that risotto and I are not compatible in any way. I do not find joy or peace in the process nor am I able to appreciate the steam facial I receive while standing over a pot of rice that simply refuses to absorb all the broth I’ve poured into its pan. Ellie writes that it will take “about 18 minutes” to add the six cups of broth to the Arborio rice. Try as I might to convince the rice to be more absorbent, try as I might to convince it that it was taking too long, I just could not get this done in 18 minutes. I decided not to time myself, but I felt like I was in the kitchen for days, and I’m pretty sure I got carpal tunnel from all the stirring. The thing I hate most about making risotto is that I feel chained to it, like I can’t stop stirring for even a moment or it starts to bubble at me in anger.

Even after all that, I was still hoping I would like it, but it was just blah. I made some modifications to the recipe, like not using spinach and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Perhaps this was a mistake. I’m sure the chicken broth – especially homemade – would have brought a lot more flavor, but I had vegetable on hand so that’s what I used. This also explains why my risotto turned out so dark in color. Otherwise, it just seemed to be lacking something… something like flavor. The texture was nice, and even though Ryan and I were both skeptical about peas, we enjoyed the crunch they and the asparagus provided. Ryan didn’t even pick around the veggies; imagine that! Since we were eating it with some pre-seasoned fish that was way too salty, it was a good pair, but this isn’t something I’ll be making again. Ryan seemed to think it was OK and took the leftovers to work for lunches. It made a ton so we’ll see if he still feels the same about it after eating it for a few more days. I would give it two stars.

Garden Risotto

½ pound asparagus, woody bottom removed
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Microwave the asparagus in a tightly covered microwave-safe bowl with 1 teaspoon water for 90 seconds, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces; set aside.

Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking, about 18 minutes.

Stir in the peas and asparagus; cook just until the vegetables are hot. Stir in the parmesan and a little more broth if the risotto seems too thick.

Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” p. 273
6 servings | 5 POINTS


May 7, 2009. recipes.


  1. Kristan Anne replied:

    It looks delicious! I never would have guessed it wasn’t.

    I’ve never made risotto, it makes me nervous. I tend to screw a lot of stuff up in the kitchen (hence the name of my food blog!) and this seems like something I’d screw up. But I just bookmarked a recipe on epicurious last night….we’ll see what happens…

  2. Sara replied:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t really like this one :( If you do make risotto again, don’t pay attention to the given time frame. Just add broth and stir until it tastes ready – no pressure needed. Also, I will leave my pot unattended for a minute or so every now and then to go do something. A little bit of bubbling is okay in my opinion.

  3. Liz replied:

    I think you’ll do fine KA! It seems everyone else from the group really enjoyed their risotto and didn’t have complaints about making it, so maybe it’s just one of those things that is lost on me. It’s not complicated so much as just tedious – lots of stirring! I look forward to reading about yours :)

  4. Erin replied:

    Hm, looks good. Too bad it wasn’t.

    I like risotto a lot, but don’t often eat it b/c it’s really low on the nutritional scale for how pointy it is.

  5. applec replied:

    It looks great. We really enjoyed the dish sorry it didn’t work out for you. You’re right…Risotto takes too much baby sitting for you not to enjoy it though.

  6. nick replied:

    “I would give it two stars”

    Is this on like a Michelin star scale or a 5 or 10 star scale?

    Bottom line: risotto is a pain in the arse to make. For me, it’s well worth (especially since Sara is mostly doing the stirring) but if you don’t love it, it’s probably not worth the effort. Thanks for trying though and I’m glad the boy enjoyed!

  7. Jennifer replied:

    Your looks great! I totally understand your love hate relationship with risotto. While I love to eat it — I hate making it!

  8. Liz replied:

    Two stars out of five; not the worst thing I’ve eaten but not worth the effort, for me. Maybe I would feel differently if someone else was doing the cooking :)

    I’ve already had a friend offer to make me her risotto recipe so that maybe I can enjoy it more (an offer I am more than happy to accept!). I definitely understand that it’s cathartic for some people, but I just don’t have the patience for it. Then again, a lot of people use their food processor for chopping veggies, and I love doing it by hand so I know everyone enjoys different tasks.

  9. connie b replied:

    YUM-O! I love risotto! Thanks for posting!

  10. Maris replied:

    Mmm looks so good! I’m trying to drop a few lbs of winter weight using Weight Watchers, so I’m so glad you posted points!

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