Chef and cookbook author Mei Li’s version of risotto takes an important twist on the classic: It’s baked rather than slowly simmered on the stove. “My toddler likes to run full-speed at my legs when I’m cooking and that’s no good for hours of stirring,” she says.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup short-grain risotto rice, such as Arborio
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced or shredded firm vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli
4 cups hearty greens, such as kale or spinach, stems and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½-1 cup grated hard cheese like parmesan or similar, plus more to taste
For serving: Pat of butter or swirl of good olive oil, a dusting of lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, lots more black pepper, a scattering of chopped fresh herbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pot and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice, season with salt and pepper, and stir to toast rice in the oil for a few more minutes.
- Add in firm vegetables and stir to combine, then stir in any leafy greens with their stems. (You may need to do this in batches if you have a voluminous amount of leaves.) Stir until everything is wilted, then add stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then increase heat to high, and bring to a boil.
- Cover pot, then carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You’re aiming for the rice to be tender, surrounded by a bit of broth. If it seems extremely soupy, you can return it to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes, but keep in mind that the rice will absorb more liquid after it’s removed from the heat. Stir in parmesan and garnish with a splash of lemon juice, more black pepper, or whatever you like.
Recipe ByMei Li in Raleigh, North Carolina