If you’re watching your budget, chances are you’re not eating a lot of seafood, but when a holiday like Valentine’s comes around, you’re probably going to want something a little special. Maybe something like this Roasted Red Pepper & Shrimp Risotto.
Fortunately, there’s more on sale during Valentine’s week than just chocolate. It’s a great time to buy all kinds of specialty grocery items, including seafood, wine & cheese. And risotto, besides tasting amazing, is a great way to stretch a little seafood.
Now, I know what you’re thinking coz I’ve been there myself. Risotto has a rep. A rep that seems to be promoted and passed around by so called foodies as being fussy or difficult. It’s just a rice dish – ok, it’s a great rice dish, but just a rice dish after all.
It does need some attention, but there’s no real need for constant stirring or babysitting and being tied down to the stove. Just stir every few minutes and in between, set the table, pour the wine, and light the candles. Whatever you want to do to make your Valentine’s day special.
Now, Risotto is best with specialty rice like Arborio, although to tell the truth, I’ve used regular old short-grain rice before, so don’t get all stressed about it if you can’t get a Risotto rice. It will still be a great dish. Just don’t tell any of those self-proclaimed foodies, ‘kay – I’ll be kicked out of the club!
You can use jarred Roasted Red Peppers in this or make your own. I like to grab a few red peppers when they’re on sale, put them on a foil-lined pan and toss them under the broiler, turning as each side is charred. Take them out, put them in a bowl and cover to steam them for about 10 minutes, then peel & de-seed. Toss them individually in Ziploc & freeze. I figure if I’m going to roast one, I might as well make good use of my time.
But whatever you do, enjoy this special dish and if there’s any leftover, and that’s gonna be a big if, make Arancini. Lovely breaded, deep-fried balls of Risotto, usually in the US, stuffed with melty Mozzarella. Maybe you’ll want to make extra Risotto so you’ll have some leftover for the Arancini…
Roasted Red Pepper & Shrimp Risotto
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound shrimp
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup Arborio rice (or substitute)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- about 5 1/2 cups chicken stock (see note)
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, finely diced, home-made or from a jar
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated and a little more for garnish
- a little parsley or thinly sliced green onion for garnish
In a 3 or 4-quart heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning once until done. Remove shrimp & set aside.
Melt an additional tablespoon butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add salt and pepper. Add the rice and cook for 3 minutes or so, stirring until nicely coated in the oil and becoming translucent around the edges.
Add the wine to the rice. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 3 cups of the stock and stir, and continue to stir now and then (once every three or four minutes) for about 12 minutes until most of the stock is absorbed and the bottom is nearly dry.
Now add more stock in 1/2 cup increments to the risotto, stirring gently for about 3 minutes until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Repeat until rice is al dente, an additional three or four times. This should take about 15 minutes. (If your rice is absorbing the stock faster or slower than three minutes, adjust your heat.)
When finished, remove from heat. You want to end up with al dente rice and a creamy sauce – it will thicken a bit more when you add the Parmesan.
Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Fold in the shrimp and red peppers. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley or green onion & a little more Parmesan.
Note: the stock amount given is approximate. You may need a little more or less. If you end up needing more stock and you find yourself without, just use water.