Risotto with Grilled Vegetable Ragu
This is a delicious vegetarian risotto that combines the sharp flavors of white wine with smokey grilled vegetables and Parmesan cheese. It can also incorporate tofu,chicken, or seafood for a dish with more protein.
What you need:
Arborio style risotto, about 1/2 cup of dry rice per person. For more information on cooking risotto, see Risotto Preparation and Tips.
- White Wine (about 3/4 cup per order)
- Vegetable Stock (low sodium) (about 3/4 cup per order)
- butter (1 tablespoon per order)
- Salt and pepper
For the Ragu
- Onion - white
- Tomato - large plum are the best, but beefsteak will work as well
- Mushrooms - I prefer portobello for this ragu
- Fresh Basil - finely chopped about 1 and 1/2 teaspoon per order
- Garlic, chopped, about 1 clove per order
- Fresh Oregano - finely chopped about 1 and 1/2 teaspoon per order
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
The first step in this dish is to create the ragu. You have to use you judgement with how much of each vegetable you will need, and how much of the sauce in total you need to make. I use equal parts of mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, onion and eggplant, to three parts of tomato. So if you use 1/2 cup of each vegetable then you would incorporate 1 and 1/2 cups of tomato giving you 4 cups total. The ratio of tomato to other vegetables is the most important, it keeps the sauce slightly acidic and lively. You can alter the amounts based on your preferences.
Slice all the vegetables into 1/2 inch thick strips and lightly coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables and dice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Before you dice the tomatoes, be sure to remove the skins. In a pot, saute the garlic in olive oil until it browns add the tomatos and break them up with a fork or spoon slightly. Add the rest of the vegetables, basil, oregano and butter and cook for no more than 5 minutes, or until the smells of the herbs are pungent. Chiffonade (fancy way to say slice thinly) the spinach and once the ragu cools, stir in the spinach and set the ragu aside.
The ragu should have a mild red color, and be rather chunky. The large pieces will create a varied texture with the rice. Make sure to not overcook the ragu, as it will be cooked further in the final preparation of the dish. Over cooking the ragu will result in a sauce with flavorless vegetables and a mushy texture.
Cook the risotto for 10 - 12 minutes or until it is 2/3 of the way done. At this point add the ragu to the risotto, and keep the rice dish relatively soupy, not so soupy that the broth covers the rice, but it should move freely as you stir the pan. If the risotto begins to stick to the edges of pan add a splash of white wine or stock to the dish. Cook for another 2 two three minutes and add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
For a nice aesthetic touch, adding some fresh baby spinach leaves (just a few) to the dish just before serving will give you a nice vibrant green aesthetic in the rice.
This dish is very simple to make and a great healthy meal that is filling but not overly heavy. Typically a nice dry white wine will work best for creating complex flavors. The charred grilled flavors work well with a dry white wine that has some acidity, such as a grapefruit or other citrus notes. Sweet white wines will leave the dish feeling flat, and require a large compensation of salt to get a strong flavor.
When serving the dish adding a final touch of parmesan or asiago cheese will create a nice fullness to the texture of the dish.