Maybe you've baked with strawberries before (we're all about pies and tarts here), but for major nostalgia points, we've got a different summery dish up our sleeve. For home cooks, the 1980s were an age of experimentation -- a culinary petri dish from which sprang such creations as sloppy joes, Jell-O pudding pops, Totino's Pizza Rolls, seven-layer dip, monkey bread, and (as we're exploring today) strawberry risotto.
Don't get it twisted — this fragrant, delicate dish isn't a rice pudding. It's as much a dessert as a playful, sophisticated side. The rosy-hued dish could even be found on the menus of many Italian restaurants during the '80s. But for contemporary home cooks, strawberry risotto can be a practical way to use produce that might be a little past its prime.
Why does it work? The combination of Arborio rice with white wine and sweet strawberries is surprisingly well-balanced. Starchy rice creates an instant creamy texture, and the accompanying grated Parmigiano, white onion, butter, olive oil, and vegetable broth are classic risotto ingredients. To do it, the strawberries are added to the rice halfway through cooking and then mashed. As they break down, the berries impart a petal pink color and bright sweetness. Half of the strawberries get added as the rice cooks, and the other half are reserved and added at the end for texture and visual appeal.
Sweet-Savory Is Here To Stay
At first glance, strawberry risotto might seem like an odd combination of flavors, but the result of the interplay is a palate more tart than sweet. Plus, strawberries and cheese are a legendary duo. Diehard fans will remember the iconic scene in the Disney-Pixar masterpiece "Ratatouille" (2007) when Remy eats a strawberry, then a hunk of cheese then eats both foods at the same time as a fantasia of abstract colors fills the screen. Quoth Remy, "Each flavor was totally unique. But combine one flavor with another, and something new was created." Strawberry risotto understands this sentiment.
Feel free to get even more creative here. Some foodies garnish their strawberry risotto with fresh mint leaves and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Others add chopped leeks into the mix or use chicken broth instead of veggies. Another popular variation is to purée the strawberries into the stock in a food processor. According to Italian chef and cookbook author, Gennaro Contaldo, who prepares this throwback, you can even use lemon in lieu of strawberries for a totally different fruity essence.
Pair your pink-hued dish as a side with roasted chicken or duck confit. Or, you could serve your strawberry risotto alongside a spread of other sweet-savory fruit-based dishes like Devils on Horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon), baked pears with ricotta, or roasted figs with prosciutto.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.