Mei Mar FoodSeen
Image by Felicia Trujillo

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.

From Crafting a Food Waste Feast

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Serves 6

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 By
    Mei Li in Raleigh, North Carolina

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