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Risotto – All You Need to Know | Instacart’s Guide to Groceries

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Last Updated: Dec 1, 2021

What is risotto?

Risotto is a warm and creamy Italian dish made with high-starch, short-grain rice, like Carnaroli, Arborio, or Vialone Nano. In addition to having rice as the main ingredient, the dish also often contains small amounts of shallots or onions sauteed in butter, broth, dry white wine, mushrooms or other vegetables, and a variety of aromatics.

Where did risotto originate from?

Risotto originated in Italy. Rice was brought to both Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the Middle Ages. The humid Mediterranean climate was ideal for growing short-grain rice, and traders made enormous profits selling it in Venice, Genoa, and the surrounding area.

The dish was invented in Milan, where both rice and slow-cooking were already popular traditions. Residents there combined local rice, spices (particularly saffron), and slow-cooking principles to create a dish known as “Risotto ala Milanese.” It was often either served by itself or with Ossobuco. Today, the recipe remains virtually unchanged and is exceptionally popular in kitchens and restaurants around the world.

What is the nutritional value of risotto?

While risotto is certainly indulgent, it’s not completely unhealthy. Short-grained rice has far more fiber than pasta and, since it’s naturally creamy, it doesn’t need a heavy, dairy-based sauce. The flavor of this dish comes mostly from herbs, spices, and the stock it cooks in.

A moderately sized serving of risotto provides some nutritional value, particularly if it’s served with fresh produce or seafood. For example, a seafood risotto will give you a nice boost of omega-3 fatty acids.

How is risotto grown?

An average of 1 million tons of rice is grown in Italy each year. The area in northern Italy that stretches from Piedmont to Lombardy is now affectionately known as “Little China,” thanks to the prevalence of rice paddies in the region. Old farms here produce 92% of the country’s rice, primarily in the area between Vercelli, Novara, and Pavia located in the hills west of Milan.

The rice is grown by leveling the fields before flooding them with water. Then, farmers use specially equipped amphibious tractors to sow the seeds in the water. They’ll start to grow, and by late summer, they’ll begin to have starchy grains. The summer heat will eventually evaporate all the water; then, farmers can start harvesting the rice.

What is the shelf life of risotto?

Uncooked risotto rice has an indefinite shelf life as long as it’s stored properly. The major challenge is trying to keep bugs and other contaminants out. Cooked risotto tastes best when eaten as soon as it’s cooked. However, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If the dish has meat or seafood in it, the lifespan is a bit shorter. In this case, you’ll want to eat it within 3 days.

What to look for when buying risotto

When shopping for risotto rice, the best option will depend a lot on personal preference. You may find that you enjoy a particular brand or a specific combination of types of rice. Risotto is also available in different flavors, such as mushroom risotto or tomato and basil.

You may also want to choose a brand that’s free from synthetic colors and artificial flavors. If eating organic is important to you, check for this label as well.

If you’re planning on placing a food delivery, you’ll be glad to know it’s easy to shop for risotto via Instacart. Once you add products to your cart, simply use the “instructions” tab to enter special instructions or requests. This will help your shopper choose the perfect risotto.

How to store risotto

To store uncooked risotto rice, keep it in a cool, dry area and store it in a sealed, airtight container or inside a heavy-duty freezer bag. You can also put your sealed container or freezer bag in the refrigerator or freezer.

Store cooked risotto in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will likely thicken, so it’s best to add some broth when reheating it. Freezing risotto isn’t recommended, as this will significantly change the texture.

How to tell if risotto is bad

If uncooked risotto has bugs or other contaminants in it, you’ll need to throw it away. When uncooked adobo rice has gone bad, it will start to harden and might grow mold.

If you think your cooked risotto might be bad, give it a sniff. If it has an off smell, it’s best to throw it away. You can also take a look at the color and texture—significant changes are a good indication that it might be past its prime. 

What can you substitute for risotto?

Making risotto with the proper rice will ensure a perfectly creamy dish. The short-grain rice that’s used has the ability to absorb a substantial amount of liquid without getting mushy. However, if you have to substitute, other grains like buckwheat, pearl barley, spelt, or brown rice are all decent options. While your risotto will still taste delicious, it might be a bit chewier and less creamy.

You can also use orzo pasta to make a mock risotto. Simply sauté garlic and onion in olive oil, add in chicken broth, and cook the orzo. Add a bit of salt and pepper and enjoy!

Add risotto to your next meal!

If you’re thinking about adding risotto to your next meal, you’re in luck! Instacart makes it easy to get risotto, fresh produce, and anything else you need to stock up your refrigerator or pantry—all delivered right to your door. Create your shopping list and enjoy same-day delivery/pick-up from all of the best local stores.

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