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Dressed Up Risotto
Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made with Arborio, a starchy white rice with an almost round shape. It’s grown mainly in the Po Valley of Italy but some California rice producers have started to grow it. When cooking, Arborio absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid, giving it its characteristic creamy texture. It’s not only good for risotto, but for rice puddings and Spanish paella.

This recipe makes a good main dish or a side for grilled or broiled chicken, meat, or seafood.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 tbs. Olive oil
1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
About three to four cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock
A half pound or slightly more of fresh asparagus spears, cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ to ½ cup of fresh parmesan (or more, if desired)
Freshly ground black pepper

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat the grains with oil. Then (over low heat) add a ladle at a time of the hot stock and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Keep adding stock and stirring. This takes awhile but the creamy results are worth it. Once the rice is almost done, steam the asparagus pieces in a separate pot. Drain and add to the cooked rice. Stir gently to mix and add the parmesan. Serve with more parmesan, fresh black pepper, and minced Italian parsley.

You can also add a cup of cooked bay shrimp to the dish if you like.