We all know kids are huge fans of Italian food… they all love pasta, white bread and cheese. But what I discovered during our recent trip to Italy was that there is an entire other type of Italian food that most of us are missing out on feeding to our kids – Risotto!!!
And the best part of this discovery is that you can make the risotto super healthy by stuffing it full of all types of veggies.
You can make risotto with any vegetable from asparagus to broccoli, or keep it simple with peas and carrots. Anything goes…
A simple search on Google for Risotto will give you thousands of recipes, such as a Basic Risotto recipe by Jamie Oliver.
But for me the key is to not stress about perfection and just do it. So I don’t even bother with a recipe… I just wing it, take shortcuts and do something like this:
- In a medium to large size pot I heat a bit of canola oil, onions, garlic and perhaps celery if I have it. (Traditionally it’s made with butter, but I use canola oil to make it healthier.)
- I add in whatever other veggies I want to include. Possibilities include spinach or asparagus or carrots and peas… whatever I feel like and have in the fridge or freezer. I sometimes include bell peppers and/or zucchini. For me the main thing is getting the vegetables into the kids. (I also throw in frozen chopped parsley.)
- Then I add a cup or two of Arborio rice. That is key – the rice MUST be a special type of rice called Arborio rice. (It’ll take some trial and error to figure out the right amount for your family.)
- I quickly mix it around a bit and then I add some warm chicken stock. But this is a good step to add some wine if you want. Since I’m pregnant, I skip the wine.
- The key now is that you’re slowly adding more warm stock and stirring and waiting for it to absorb. (I often cheat with the stock and instead I just use room temperature water and add powdered chicken or vegetable stock.) This step is the main cooking time and takes about 20 minutes or so.
- I taste the rice to see if it’s cooked.
- Once it tastes soft, I pull it from the heat and add a bunch of Parmesan cheese (and sometimes I add a splash of milk) and stir it well. (You’re supposed to add butter here, but I skip it as I’m trying to keep it as healthy as possible.)
- Then it sits in the pot for a couple minutes as I grab out the plates etc.
And it’s amazing… Julia and Jackson both LOVE it and always ask for seconds.
One negative about risotto is that it needs to be eaten immediately and does not work well for leftovers the next day.
But, the great taste and the clean plates have made vegetable risotto a regular feature around here.
As I said before, the key is to just make it and not worry about it being the ‘perfect Italian risotto’. Your kids won’t know the difference — they’ll just love this creamy, yummy alternative to their regular rice and vegetables.
So how about you… have you ever fed your kids risotto? What other grown-up food have you found that surprisingly your kids love?