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Region's favorite fall fruit just fine in simple risotto

The risotto recipe in this blog’s previous post takes mushrooms to another level, layering several umami flavors, finished with fresh truffle.

But risotto doesn’t have to be super savory to be satisfying. Often, sweeter flavors bring out the deeper notes of fine-quality cheese and homemade stock. Such is the case in this recipe that celebrates Southern Oregon’s quintessential autumn crop.

Pears are grated into Lidia Bastianich’s otherwise simple risotto of onion and leeks, finished with Grana Padano cheese. This is a perfect way to use those firmer pear varieties, including d’Anjou, that are just coming into stores.

Look for Grana Padano, similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano, at grocers with well-stocked cheese sections, such as South Medford Fred Meyer. Or ask for it at the Rogue Creamery cheese shop in Central Point or Oregon Cheese Cave in Phoenix.

Risotto With Pear and Grana Padano

8 cups light chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup peeled and finely chopped onion

1 cup sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only, washed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 medium Bartlett pears, peeled and grated

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese

1 cup thinly sliced celery and celery leaves

Balsamic vinegar reduction (optional)

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the onion and leeks. Season lightly with the salt and pepper. Cook and stir until onion and leeks are wilted but not browned, for 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the rice, and stir to coat in oil. Pour in the wine, and cook, stirring, until it’s absorbed, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Ladle in enough hot stock just to cover rice, and adjust heat so risotto is simmering.

Cook, stirring continuously, until all liquid is absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches (just enough to moisten rice completely) and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed, stirring continuously, until rice mixture is creamy but still al dente, for about 18 minutes total.

Add the grated pears about halfway through cooking time. It’s OK if you have a little stock left over.

Remove skillet from heat and vigorously stir in the butter in teaspoon-size pieces until absorbed. Sprinkle with the Grana Padano; stir to combine into a creamy mixture. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve risotto in shallow bowls, with a sprinkle of the celery and celery leaves and a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar reduction, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from “Felidia” by Lidia Mattichhio Bastianich (Knopf; October 2019).

Tribune News Service photo