1 cup white basmati rice
1 onion finely diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup vegetable stock
1-2 cups water
1.5 tbsp grated Parmasean
2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
- Mix the vegetable stock and water together and add to a saucepan and warm. In a separate saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and warm on low heat. While it’s warming, finely dice your onion and mince the garlic. Once olive oil is warm, add onion and fry for 5 minutes on low heat. Then, add garlic and fry for 3 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally
- Add rice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and fry the rice with the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring
- After 1-2 minutes, add about 1 cup of warmed vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high fire for about 3-5 minutes, while you chop the carrot and mushrooms into small cubes. After 3-5 minutes, or when the rice absorbs most of the stock and just starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and the carrots and more warm liquid, mix. You want the rice to cook slowly, gaining a sticky consistency – adding liquid as it absorbs into the rice
- Next, add the mushrooms – you’re the judge of when and how much liquid to add, as you the one watching the rice cook and absorb, so if you need more liquid at this time, add more. All together, you will probably use about 2-3 cups of the liquid
- Continue to simmer, occasionally stirring, tasting the rice to check if its nearly cooked. This will probably be another 3-5 minutes. When the rice is nearly cooked, add the peas, tiny bit more liquid and salt and pepper. Let the rice now cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan, mix and cover. Leave to rest for 2 minutes. This is when the rice really takes form as a risotto and becomes a lovely, sticky consistency. Mix and serve
Risotto requires a little bit of love and attention while preparing to ensure that the rice cooks well, and the grains achieve a smooth and sticky consistency. It might be worth setting a timer, maybe on your smart phone, for each stage to remind yourself to continuously check the rice. You don’t want to overcook it, and it does require constant liquid ladling. It might sound complex, but honestly, it’s such a simple dish. Cooking risotto is like making toast – you can’t really mess it up.
White rice is as cost effective as pasta, it’s definitely toddler approved and it’s more easily digested than pasta, so it’s a good alternative to what might seem like a constant rotation of pasta dishes in your house. You can make this recipe with risotto rice, but I use white basmati rice because I always have it in the house, and it cooks faster. This recipe can be prepped and cooked in about 30 minutes, and it requires no planning – spontaneous cooking at its best! You can add whatever vegetables you have in the house: carrots, mushrooms, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potato, leeks, kale – just try to add the more dense vegetables in the early cooking process, so they have time to soften. If you want a more hearty meal, you can use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and add chicken or salmon to the risotto. The chicken or fish stock will add depth and flavor galore, boost the nutrient profile, and make the dish a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. Adding an oily fish like salmon will also up the essential fatty acid profile which is so important in developing infants, babies and toddlers.
Cooking risotto fills the house with a beautiful smell that is unmistakable in its aroma. I would often cook it while both girls were taking their afternoon nap, and as Number 1 approached 2.5 years old, she would wake and come downstairs and ask, “did you make rice!?!” It’s a favorite of my girls, and of mine because they can easily feed themselves the sticky rice, there’s always enough for leftovers, it can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian and it feels gluttonous, but it’s actually very healthy. Hooray for risotto!
This will serve 4 – two toddlers and two adults. Or, if you’re having fish or chicken to accompany it, which is what we do, this recipe will serve 4, with leftovers.