Risotto for me was, for many years, solely a restaurant dish. I had only eaten it at fancy eateries at a time when it was ubiquitous on menus as the trend of the minute. I did not understand that it was something a normal human could make at home. But when I discovered that there is no real mystery, that it is quite a simple dish to make, one that takes only patience, a whole world of flavors opened up to me.
I started with a champagne risotto, which I served at fancy dinner parties and felt very sophisticated about it too, because most of my guests had never had homemade risotto either. Then I read in a lovely cookbook that the author’s Italian husband considered tomato risotto his childhood comfort food – like we might think of macaroni and cheese or chicken noodle soup. She shared her recipe, well, his mother’s recipe, for the food he always wanted when he was feeling poorly. And it was basically risotto made with tomato sauce. That really opened the flavor floodgates for me. And eventually, with some carrot juice in the fridge and dill in the herb garden, I came up with this version.
I love the bright, zingy color and flavor of this risotto. It immediately perks up an plate. Carrot and dill are made for each other, so you have this amazing harmony of flavor to go with the vibrant color. I eat this on it’s own as a meal, but it is stunning on a plate with pork or chicken and a vibrant green vegetable. It would also make a beautiful starter. Make sure you buy 100 percent carrot juice, which I find in the refrigerated juice section of the produce department. You don’t want orange or mango or any other fruity flavors mixed in.
Carrot and dill risotto
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups carrot juice
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth, room temperature (may substitute cooking wine)
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more to garnish
1. Combine the broth and carrot juice in a small saucepan and bring just to a simmer.
2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-low. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Do not brown. Raise the heat to medium high and add the rice. Stir to coat well in the butter and cook until the rice grains are translucent around the edges, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it is completely absorbed.
3. Add 1/2 cup of the broth/juice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it is absorbed. Continue to add the liquid 1/2 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until each addition is absorbed and incorporated. Add some of the chopped dill with each addition, reserving 2 tablespoons to stir in at the end. Continue cooking the risotto until all the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is creamy, about 20–25 minutes. Stir in the last of the dill and the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
4. Risotto is best served immediately, but can be kept, covered, over very low heat for about 20 minutes. Garnish with a shower of chopped fresh dill.