My brother hasn’t been in the car with us for twenty minutes when I hear him say something in passing about a spring pea risotto he tried the week before.
Before I can stop myself, I’m exclaiming, “Risotto? I want to make risotto! How do you do it? Was it hard?”
Then I say to Tim, “Remember the carrot risotto we had in California?”
This version was enjoyed at a restaurant called La Bicyclette. It was the highlight of our meal and maybe our entire trip, the kind of entree you never forget.
I know Tim knows it, too. This was a carrot risotto so creamy and buttery, so cheesy and comforting, and so beautifully bright orange in a way things hardly ever are naturally.
After we ate it, I gushed over how warm, savory, and amazing it was. But I didn’t dream of going home and trying it myself because, just between us, making risotto from scratch scares me a bit.
In my mind, risotto is of the realm of great chefs, top restaurants, and five-star reviews. It’s made with talent, skill, and precision.
There was a time when I approached it once years ago, but the results were hard and bland, and it crunched when you took a spoonful…
Jump back to the present, when we’re driving down the highway, and I say, “I want to make risotto!” to my husband and my brother in the car – I don’t actually mean I want to make risotto, I mean that I want to eat risotto!
Here’s the thing: I’m pretty convinced that this dish is hard to make, fussy, and obviously not something that I can pull off.
But then my brother comes to town.
The idea of cooking with other people may seem charming at first, but the truth is that not all cooks make good companions. You don’t have to share your kitchen many times before you come to realize this is true.
There are cooks who will come into your home and take over, leaving you stressed out and insecure, watching helplessly while they rearrange your spice rack. There are cooks who will second-guess you, who will comment on the weird way you hold the frosting bag before taking it out of your hands.
On the other hand, there are cooks like my brother. These are the kind who already know you so well that they are easy partners, whatever the project.
They come to visit and tell you about a risotto they made, and they make it seem so approachable and possible to achieve that before you know it, you’re standing with them over a pot of Arborio rice that’s cooking on your stove. You’re learning while you watch them, gaining confidence as you work together.
These cooks aren’t common, but when you’re blessed to find one, give thanks – these are the people you want to cook with.
Adam and I are making risotto together, frozen stock thawing on the stove, my hands pressing buttons on the food processor to shred carrots, his hands chopping parsley on the cutting board.
It’s not night yet, but the sky is darkening as storm clouds gather overhead. The kitchen seems to grow smaller and smaller as we lose the daylight, so he flips on the overhead bulb above the stove.
He stirs the risotto, moving a long wooden spoon steadily through the rice, wine, and carrots. I add stock half a cup at a time, letting it absorb between each addition, and it transforms the rice so it becomes soft, plump, and fragrant.
The two of us, who have been cooking together for as long as we’ve been cooking, work side by side throughout the entire process. We’re like four hands in a singular machine, the product of a lifetime of shared experiences, kitchens, and food.
Today, while we scoop ladles of risotto into bowls and sprinkle them with parsley and grated cheese, I think about how this person standing next to me has known me all his life.
I think about how nice it is to cook with him because he knows me, so I can say to him, “Keep your eye on this,” and know that he will. I can trust him to anticipate the next step, or to catch something I miss.
I can go to turn the pepper grinder just before we finish the dish and, when it releases half a jar of whole peppercorns instead of a light sprinkling of ground pepper, I can count on him to laugh with me even while we proceed to laboriously pick peppercorn after peppercorn out of the simmering food.
After the last bit of stock has been worked into the pot, we take our bowls to the brown leather sofa and plop down, side by side. We put our feet up and flip through movie trailers on the TV, and I feel so thankful for this brother who cooks with me.
As we eat spoonful after spoonful of this meal we cooked together, the thing I feared and didn’t think I was capable of making in my own kitchen, I feel thankful.
I think the reason some people claim they hate making risotto, and the reason it seems like an intimidating dish to pull off at home for many people, all goes back to stirring.
Making risotto requires a lot of stirring. Like, twenty straight minutes of it. That’s why this is a great recipe to make with friends or family, so you can divvy up the chopping and stirring and other prep duties.
One bite into this risotto, you’ll know it was worth the effort.Print
Creamy and filled with fresh herbs, this carrot risotto will go with with anything you want to cook this week.
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, divided
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 2.5 cups shredded carrots (approx. 1–1 1/4 lbs or 10 carrots)
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/3 cup minced onion
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese, divided
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, cover, and keep at a simmer over low heat.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add carrots and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated. Add 1/2 cup warmed stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and honey.
- Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer half of the carrots to a bowl and set aside. Puree the rest with 3/4 cup warmed stock in a food processor or blender.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in the same pot that you caramelized the carrots in. Add the minced onion and thyme, and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add rice, and stir with a wooden spoon to coat completely.
- Stir in wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until liquid has evaporated almost completely, about 5 minutes. Add carrot puree and stir occasionally until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup broth and stir frequently until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes.
- Repeat this process of adding stock and stirring often 4-5 times, until the rice is al dente. You may not need to use all of the stock.
- Fold in the reserved carrots, ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with remaining parsley and Pecorino before serving.
- Category: Risotto
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Side Dishes
Keywords: risotto, carrot, side dish
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Peel and shred the carrots. I did this by using the shredding disc on my food processor, but you could also add the peeled carrots to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until they are chopped and roughly uniform. A box grater will also work for this step.
Peel and mince half of a small onion, until you have about 1/3 cup total.
Mince parsley leaves until you have 2 tablespoons total.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. For the white wine, I recommend using a dry Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris to counter the sweetness of the carrots.
Place the chicken or vegetable stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cover and keep at a simmer, so it will be ready to go when you need it.
Step 2 – Cook
Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium heat. Once it has melted, add the carrots, and stir to coat them well.
Stir in 1/2 cup stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the honey until combined.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are just starting to brown. This will take about 5-10 minutes.
Remove half of the carrots and place in a bowl. Set aside for later.
Step 3 – Puree
Place the remaining carrots into a food processor or countertop blender. Add 3/4 cup of the warmed stock and puree until smooth.
Step 4 – Saute and Combine Ingredients
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter into the same pan you cooked the carrots in, and let it melt over medium heat.
Add the onion and thyme. Cook the onions until they are translucent, for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally, and do not allow the onions to burn.
Stir in the rice and continue to stir until it is coated well in the melted butter.
Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated almost all the way. This will take about 5 minutes.
Add the carrot puree and continue to cook until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. This will take another 3-5 minutes.
Step 5 – Cook Rice Through
Add stock in 1/2-cup increments, stirring frequently until the liquid is almost absorbed. This will take about 5 minutes. Be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape up any flavorful browned bits or fond on the bottom of the pan.
Repeat the process of adding stock and stirring often, adding more when the liquid has absorbed almost completely. You will make additional at least 4-5 times.
You will know that the rice is done when you give it a taste and it is al dente. Give it a taste when you think it’s getting close. If you need to add more broth to cook the rice through, that’s okay. You may not use all of the broth, and that’s okay as well.
Step 6 – Finish and Serve
Gently fold in the reserved carrots, ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with additional parsley and grated Pecorino before serving.
A Dish with So Many Delicious Pairings
There are so many different kinds of main dishes that will pair beautifully with this carrot risotto.
You can go for lighter proteins like healthy grilled chicken or baked white fish.
Another option that I particularly like is pork chops or pork tenderloin, because the meat pairs well with the subtle sweetness of the carrots.
Do you need more ideas for making risotto? Here are some of our favorite recipes:
- Easy Vegan Asparagus and Tomato
- Cabbage and Mushroom
- Mushroom and Herb
- Farro with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale
- Asparagus and Lemon
What main will you serve alongside this carrot risotto? Tell us in the comments below. Be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try it as well!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 15, 2012. Last updated: March 17, 2019 at 8:24 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.