Risotto with Mixed Herbs ~ a creamy risotto is a welcome meal in any season, but when you infuse it with lots of fresh herbs from the garden it’s a special treat! This is an easy vegetarian side dish or light meal that’s also naturally gluten free.
One of the first things I did after we moved in was to get a little herb patch started out back. Once it gets established it will help me cut down on so many last minute trips to the store. It seems like every time I have store bought herbs around most of them end up going to waste. I haven’t found the secret to storing them past the first day.
I planted the mint in a pot under a shady tree where it can’t get out of control and take over the rest of the patch. I usually plant peppermint and spearmint, and use them all summer long in drinks, Mediterranean food, and salads.
The rest are planted in the only spot in the backyard sunny enough for them. The thyme, rosemary and oregano are perennials and will grow throughout the year, but the basil, cilantro and parsley will periodically go to seed. I’ll keep popping in new plants throughout the growing season. It’s a huge help to have fresh herbs available like this and probably makes the biggest single difference I can think of in the quality of my cooking.
But until they get established I’ll still be picking up my herbs at the farmer’s market. For this risotto I used equal amounts of sage, chives, parsley, thyme and basil. About a 1/2 cup of finely chopped herbs in total.
I used the mini processor to get them really finely chopped, but you can do it by hand.
Don’t think of this as a time consuming side dish, think of it as a simple elegant dinner. Upgrade to a slightly better wine and make a salad to go with it. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of mascarpone and Parmesan cheese in this risotto, so you won’t be roughing it.
If you’ve got dinner guests on a vegetarian or gluten free diet, this is a perfect dish to serve.
Notes: I like to use a silicone spatula for stirring the risotto, it helps keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and makes the whole process a little easier.
Also try ~
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup sherry or dry white wine
- 1/2 cup mixed minced herbs
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 oz (1/2 an 8 oz container) mascarpone cheese (an Italian cream cheese)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- fresh cracked pepper
- Put the stock and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Saute the onion for several minutes until translucent.
- Add the rice and saute for a few more minutes.
- Pour in the Sherry or wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed between each addition.
- Keep adding the broth and stirring for about 30 minutes. Test the rice for doneness. Mine usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes, and uses every drop of broth.
- When you add your last bit of broth, add the lemon juice and herbs as well.
- When the risotto is done, take it off the heat and stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses.
- Season with salt and lots of cracked pepper and serve with more grated Parmesan on the side.