March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Risotto, a classic rice dish of northern Italy, takes its place on the menu as a creamy appetizer, a satisfying entree or a savory side for meat, poultry or seafood. Made with a short-grain rice that's simmered and stirred to gradually absorb its flavorful liquid, risotto can be economical, nourishing and easy to make. With green peas, prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes, this version is typically Venetian.
Tip: Once you've mastered the technique, make your version of risotto with spring-fresh vegetables, mushrooms, shrimp or shellfish, shredded chicken, and other types of cheese.
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 leek, white part only, well rinsed, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
2 ounces prosciutto cut in 1-inch strips
¾ cup dry white wine
1 cup fresh or frozen baby green peas
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; keep broth at a simmer as you make risotto.
- Heat the olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for about 3 minutes, until they are translucent.
- Add the rice and sauté, stirring to coat rice with oil and avoid sticking. Cook until rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.
- Add prosciutto and cook about 2 minutes longer, stirring, until softened.
- Add wine, cook until wine is absorbed. Reduce heat to simmer.
- Add ½ cup of warm broth to rice mixture. Stir to combine ingredients. As the rice absorbs the broth, gradually add more broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring, allowing broth to absorb after each addition. Continue until nearly all the stock is absorbed. This will take about 20 minutes. Properly cooked, risotto will be slightly firm (al dente), yet creamy.
- Add the peas and tomatoes and stir. Simmer for about 5 more minutes.
- Add cheese and basil, stir again. Cover to allow cheese to melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Calories: 430; Calories from fat: 120; Total fat: 14g; Saturated fat: 4; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium 660mg; Total carbohydrate: 52g; Dietary fiber: 4g; Sugars: 3g; Protein 19g