Have I mentioned that I’m Greek? Since it’s the Olympics, and the first Olympics were held in Greece, it seemed like a good time to mention it…and this Greek risotto recipe that will have you winning the gold in the kitchen. (Sorry, like this dish, I’m cheesy.)
But back to me and my Greekness… My Dad’s grandfather came over from Greece when he was just a boy. I know he worked as a chef/cook. Sadly that’s about all I know as family history isn’t my family’s specialty. But my grandfather’s last name was Leakopolis (sounds Greek to me!), which he shortened to Lee to fit in better in America. Imagine, I could have been Kelly Golightleakopolis….ah, how it rolls off the tongue. Speaking of things that roll off the tongue, or rather, on, this Greek risotto has been one of our favorites the past few years.
While I may have not have inherited any Greek family history or traditions (other than a fiery temper), I do have a penchant for traditional Greek flavors like tomato, feta and oregano, all of which this risotto possesses. In the spirit of the Olympics, perhaps you’ll be inspired to whip some up this weekend? Either that or Perogis. But I don’t have a recipe for that, so let’s stick with risotto, okay?
Here’s how to make it:
serves 2-4 (2 for dinner, maybe 4 for a light lunch)
3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 Cup vegetable broth
4 Cups water
1 Cup Arborio rice
1/3 Cup ouzo, Pernod or vermouth (ouzo is my favorite with this dish but I used vermouth last night because that’s what I had)
1 1/3 Cups grated ripe tomatoes (I used one large heirloom and two small roma tomatoes) Note: To grate a tomato, slice in half and grate the cut side with a grater like you would cheese over a bowl. Grate as close to the skin as possible, then discard the skin.
1/2 Cup crumbled feta
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
Lemon zest, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional
Shaved parmesan, optional
1. Place broth and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering, then add rice to skillet. Stir until well-coated with olive oil and starting to soften slightly, 2-3 minutes.
3. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth/water. Keep stirring gently until the rice absorbs all the broth. Add ouzo, Pernod or vermouth and stir until absorbed.
4. Add grated tomato and stir gently until the mixture is dense. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the rice is creamy but al dente, 25 to 30 minutes. Tip: Risotto should not be rushed. Enjoy slowly stirring in each batch of broth. Bored? Take a sip of vino every time you do (who’s gonna tell?) and inhale the yummy aroma.
5. Add feta and stir until melted and risotto is creamy and thick. Stir in oregano and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from heat and serve immediately. If you love cheese like we do, add some shaved parmesan.
Tip: Like pancakes, risotto loses heat easily and doesn’t re-heat that well so eat up, fast!
Greek risotto is a really delish dish to whip up if you have 30 minutes, perfect for enjoying fireside or poolside, and will have you dreaming of traveling to a Greek isle to live in a villalala. And wondering if Rita Wilson might be your cousin. Rita, Tom, call me!