Sometimes, the best dishes emerge from what you have on hand. Take this recipe for Double Carrot Risotto. Recently, we made a dish that called for about a cup of carrot juice—and all I could find at the store was a half-gallon bottle of carrot juice. Needless to say, I had a lot of leftover carrot juice. (Which is delicious mixed half-and-half with orange juice for breakfast, by the way.)
I also had garden carrots in the fridge. Carrots + carrot juice became Double Carrot Risotto.
Rob and I love to make risotto 1) because its leisurely cooking time allows for wine and conversation in the kitchen, and 2) because it’s endlessly flexible, a foundation for whatever you happen to want to throw into it. Like this recipe for Warm and Comforting Tomato Risotto.
We adapted our basic risotto recipe — 1 large onion, 1 1/4 cups arborio rice, 1/3 cup wine and 4 cups broth — to include the carrot juice and carrots. We find it works to cook heartier vegetables like carrots or butternut squash in the broth before adding them to the risotto, so they wind up tender but not falling apart.
This Double Carrot Risotto was the perfect side dish to grilled pork tenderloin (I also think it would be excellent topped with seared scallops). Plus, it’s a gorgeous orange color, perfect for these early fall days.
Double Carrot Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/4 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups carrot juice
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
In a large saucepan, mix the vegetable broth and carrot juice; add the diced carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a gentle simmer while you proceed with the recipe. In a heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil; when it's warm, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt; sauté, stirring frequently, until it's translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil; cook until you see a white spot in the middle of the grains, 1—2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it's almost cooked off. Begin adding stock about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly. (Keep cooking the carrots for a bit longer.) Continue stirring until the stock is absorbed; when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan, it will leave a path. You want the risotto to be "thirsty" before adding more stock.
The process of cooking, stirring and adding broth will take about 20—30 minutes, give or take. After about 20 minutes, transfer the carrots to the risotto pan and add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. At this point, begin tasting the risotto to see if it's done. You want the dish to be creamy, with grains of rice that are firm but tender. If the rice has a bit of crunch when you sample it, keep stirring and adding broth. Cooking it too long will result in a mushy texture; don't worry if you take it too far, as the risotto will still be tasty. With a bit of practice, you'll get the perfect degree of doneness. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan into the risotto; use the remaining Parm to top each serving along with a sprinkle of minced parsley.