Risotto al Prosecco

I have a special place in my heart for Italy.  I spent four months living and studying in Rome during Fall of 2010 – eating, breathing and exploring my way around the ancient metropolis.  When I had to choose a cookbook for class, Italy Anywhere by Lori de Mori was an instant favorite.  It immediately took me back to my adventures in Italy and I knew it was perfect for the assignment.

I was conveniently at Trader Joe’s and picked up the needed the ingredients.  The recipe only called for 1 1/2 cups of the bubbly, but there can never be too much prosecco in one’s pantry – therefore, I picked up two bottles.  This was clearly no Farmer’s Market (see the +TAX under the price!).  The bottles of prosecco were neatly packed in cases and ready for customers to grab at the checkout lines.  Convenient indeed.

 The recipes in the cookbook were separated into sections: Antipasti, Secondi, Contorni, Dolci (a traditional order of serving food in Italian culture).  After browsing through the recipes, I was torn on what I could make.  Most times, I stick to recipes with photos so I can expect to see the final presentation before cooking.  This time around, I went for it.  No pictures, no idea what the risotto would look like.  I finally agreed to make Risotto al Prosecco (Risotto with Prosecco).  My love for drinking prosecco (responsibly, of course) and eating cheese while living in Italy got a bit out of control.  I never had this dish while living in Rome – so, all signs pointed to yes on Risotto al Prosecco.  My favorite ingredients put into one dish: RICE (arborio rice), PROSECCO and CHEESE.

A prosecco toast to a gorgeous night in Bellagio, Lake Como with friends.

 I had never cooked risotto before, but it turned out to be easily managed.  The steps in the cookbook were simple and the ingredients were few.  I added a bit more prosecco than called for and chopped porcini mushrooms into the rice mixture because…why not?  The lack of greens had me a bit unsatisfied.  Next time, I would try adding in sauteed asparagus.  The smell of the prosecco took over the kitchen; and I was completely fine with that.  After stirring lots of chicken broth and caramelized onions into the mixture for about 20 minutes, my risotto was almost ready.

 Freshly grated parmesan cheese was added into the hot risotto and now, it was complete.  The risotto was creamy and thick (without any added cream), which truly captured the warm, rich tastes of Italian cooking.  The taste of the prosecco wasn’t overpowering, but just enough to taste the delicate flavors.

This dish was extremely satisfying to taste after I took a trip down memory lane and revisited my culinary experiences in Italy.  I never considered recreating the dishes I had had in Italy.  Now, I have no excuse but to pick up a classic Italian cookbook and revisit the inspiring country in my kitchen as often as I’d like.