Citrus risotto: $1.03/serving

Risotto is a lot more versatile than people realize. Like soup or soufflé, it’s an inexpensive blank canvas for whatever you happen to have on hand—including, as I proved last year with strawberry-basil risotto, even fruit. The idea of incorporating citrus came from Judy Rodgers’ Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Between the quality of fruit I used, my inauthentic risotto method, and my jury-rigged mascarpone, Judy would be perfectly justified in coming up here to slap the book right out of my hands and hit me upside the head with it, but for a slightly modified budget meal, this was just as delicious, different, and refreshing as I had hoped. It’s probably best made during the winter, when citrus is at its peak (at least, it is around here), but if you’re going to make it now, ensure you at least find fruit that’s thin-skinned (less pith) and quite heavy for its size (more juice).

As below, it makes about 4 servings.

• 1 large pink grapefruit: 95 cents
• 1 large lime: 25 cents
• 2 cups arborio rice: $1.85
• 1/4 cup mascarpone*: 50 cents
• 1/2 an onion, chopped: 10 cents
• 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warmed: 35 cents
• 2 T butter: 12 cents
• Salt: 1 cent
TOTAL: $4.13/4 = $1.03/serving 

*This was far too expensive for me; if it is for you as well, try this decent substitute from Judy’s Kitchen:
• 8 oz. cream cheese: $1.79
• 3 T sour cream: 10 cents
• 2 T whipping cream: 10 cents
Combine all three ingredients and beat until combined. It makes a little over a cup; use the extra to spread on toast or eat with fruit.

The first step, before you even get started, is to cut the grapefruit and lime into supremes, which are basically fruit slices devoid of rind, pith, or membrane. Unless you’ve worked in a restaurant or done this on a regular basis, it’s not going to be pretty. Which is fine. Make sure you do it over a bowl to catch all the juice.

In fact, this is a much more artful and illustrative explanation than I was about to give, except my fruit was so dry (especially the lime, as you can see in the picture) I had to kind of pry the segments out with my fingers instead of a knife. It all gets stirred into the risotto at the end, so it’s not the end of the world. If there’s any fruit left on the pith segments you cut off, juice them into the bowl.

Side note: I happened to zest the lime and grapefruit as well because I was worried their lack of juiciness wouldn’t provide enough flavor. The zest definitely boosted the citrusiness of the risotto but also left it tasting somewhat bitter, so I leave this step to your discretion. If I were to do it again, I probably would just garnish with a little bit of zest and leave the rest out.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the rice and cook about 2 minutes, until the edges are translucent and the grains are coated with butter. Next—and purists are not going to like this one bit—add all 5 cups of the warmed stock to the pot. I know this is wildly inauthentic, but as anyone who reads the blog regularly knows, it’s how I make it, and for me it comes out perfect every time—more perfect than if I had done it the “right” way—so I have no intention of changing my ways. I suggest you at least try it before you knock it.

Bring rice and stock to a boil, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 9 minutes. Remove the lid and stir. Replace lid and simmer for another 9 minutes. Remove lid, set the timer for 1 1/2 minutes, and stir vigorously and constantly the entire time to release the starch in the rice. When time’s up it should look exactly like risotto that had been stirred the whole time on the stove, and still be slightly al dente.

Add the fruit segments and any accumulated juice to the risotto, breaking the larger fruit pieces up into smaller chunks (but not too small, as you definitely want chunks). Stir in the mascarpone and serve.

2 responses to “Citrus risotto: $1.03/serving

  1. The risotto sounds nice, but what I really like about this post is the mascarpone substitute!

  2. This looks great! Thanks for sharing!

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