Risotto is a dish of the people. Not only is it a great recipe to get the kids helping in the kitchen, but it’s also adaptable to whatever ingredients you have to hand. And it’s always been an amazing dish to embrace leftovers: fresh herbs, leftover meat, fish and cheese, or any fresh, frozen or tinned veg you have hanging around.

Master the basic recipe, and you’ll open the door to an endless supply of new recipes to try. Learn how to achieve the perfect consistency, mix it up with your favourite ingredients and make it yours. Think a dollop of fresh pesto, different cheeses, colourful veg, or crispy breadcrumbs for texture.

Top tips for making a basic risotto work for you

  1. Use a large, wide pan, so that the rice, when covered with a little stock, cooks evenly. 
  2. You don’t need to rinse the rice beforehand – you need all that starch to make your risotto creamy. 
  3. The cooking heat should be kept low and gentle throughout – try to rush it with heat and you’ll only burn your rice. 
  4. If you can’t get risotto rice, try paella or pudding rice, or even pearl barley. Just be sure to check the packet instructions and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  5. Heat your stock in a second pan, separately, and keep it simmering so that when you add it to the rice, it is already hot and bubbling. You can use fresh stock or a stock cube – whatever you’ve got. If you have any veg trimmings or fresh herb stalks to hand, add those to your stock as it simmers to bump up the flavour. The tastier the stock, the tastier the risotto.
  6. Swap the onion for leek, and leave out the celery if you need to.
  7. Get the kids to grate the veg on a box grater to minimise chopping.
  8. If you haven’t got Parmesan, you can use Cheddar – it’s not classic by any means, but will still taste incredible.
  9. The important thing to remember is not to rush! Take your time – give it some love, and add the liquid little and often. It’s all about massaging out the best of the flavours as it cooks.

Check out some of these risotto recipes for flavour combos, or freestyle it! Whatever you do, have fun.