What is Risotto?
Risotto is an Italian dish made of rice cooked in stock and white wine. It requires a special type of rice that is short-grained and high in starch, which has the ability to soak up liquid and flavors without becoming mushy. Some varieties of rice that are suitable for making risotto are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano.
Some rice brands that are good for making this dish are:
- Alma Gourmet
- Principato di Lucedio
- Tenuta Castello
- Riso Bello
- Riso di Molinella
Origin of risotto
This dish originated in Northern Italy. Originally introduced by Arabs in the region in the 10th century, they quickly discovered that the climate was perfect for growing a short-grained variety of rice. The grain caught on slowly and, by the 14th century, monks were growing rice in their monastery farms. One of the first recipes for this dish can be found in the 15th century Maestro Martino’s Libro De Arte Coquinaria.
In 1839, the classic arborio and carnaroli rice varieties used in making risotto today came to Italy from the Philippines through Padre Calleri, who smuggled them in. In a bid to reduce wheat consumption, Mussolini promoted this and, thus, Italy’s dependence on foreign produce. He encouraged the consumption of rice and even started a smear campaign against pasta! Today, this dish remains an Italian staple.
A 100g serving of this rice dish provides 166 calories. The nutritional values are:
In addition, it may have significant amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, folate, folic acid, and vitamin A. The health benefits of this dish will vary according to the main ingredients and variety of rice used. However, rice can have side effects and may rob the body of iron and zinc. Additionally, it may have a high concentration of heavy metals, if grown in polluted areas.
This is a classic dish available in Italian restaurants throughout the world. First, the rice is toasted and then cooked in a broth, regularly stirring until it is done. Separately cooked vegetables, meat, mushrooms, or other ingredients are stirred in. Then, the dish is topped with cheese. Many restaurants pre-cook the rice up to 75 percent and refrigerate it, using it as and when required. Italy is the largest producer of risotto rice, though other countries also produce it in smaller quantities.
The main ingredients required for making this dish are rice, broth, butter, onions, white wine, and parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) cheese.
- Mushroom Risotto
- Garlic Parmesan Risotto
- Risotto Cakes
- Cheesy Vegetable Risotto
- Saffron Risotto
- Lemon Spinach Risotto
The FDA defines a standard of identity for white rice, also known as enriched rice, but has no definition for risotto, either in terms of rice variety or in terms of the prepared dish. One type of rice used for this dish, Vialone Nano, is granted a Protected Geographical Indication under the European Union laws and can only be grown in Verona, Italy.
Danny, Origins: Risotto — Futurism and Fascism, Medium, https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/origins-risotto-futurism-and-fascism-4f2ec6eb9e4
Caradonna, Fabio et al. “Science and Healthy Meals in the World: Nutritional Epigenomics and Nutrigenetics of the Mediterranean Diet.” Nutrients vol. 12,6 1748. 11 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12061748, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7353392/