Risotto = Love

While I'm in Italy, I'm not only eating a lot of delicious food, I'm also cooking a fair amount. (Yes, I do like playing with food so much I even make a point of doing it on vacation!)

Risotto carries with it a mystique, that it's the kind of thing only an expert can successfully make in the kitchen, so what better place to learn how to make this quintessential Italian food than Italy?

My goal here was to cook as much from scratch as I could - no cheating with bottled this or pre-made that. Time-consuming? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely yes!

I started by making my own vegetable broth - with vegetables from the backyard garden! This meal already tastes better. A few carrots, a stalk of celery, and an onion work nicely. Simmer them in a pot of water, covered, for about 90 minutes. Strain out the overcooked veggies and reserve that broth - it's worth its weight in gold.

Then I boiled this handmade sausage for about 20 minutes. (You do make your own sausage, right?? OK, maybe I didn't make this myself. But someone nearby did.)

Once it's fully cooked through, remove the casing and finely dice the meat.

Next I chopped up a leek or two and boiled them for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Next you'll want to fry up a sliced onion or two until they're soft.

Now it's time to get the risotto itself rolling. Add your rice to the pot with the sauteed onions.

Give that a quick stir and then add the remaining ingredients - the sausage, the leeks, and that delicious homemade broth. Once that is all mixed together, it's time for that one key ingredient that really makes everyday rice into the mysterious risotto: cheese. I used Asiago cheese here.

Then you stir. What they say about lots of stirring for risotto isn't wrong. Maybe bring a book to the stove or plan to catch up on your Instagram.

But all that work is rewarded! Homemade risotto! It's a triumph of subtle, harmoniously mixed flavors. Risotto can be phenomenal and anyone who knows anything about food will be impressed.

Realistically, would I make risotto from scratch every day? No. But a meal like this is definitely a testament to the value of homemade, homegrown, locally-sourced food. You can taste the love - and what more could you ask for from dinner?

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