This post is for my dad, who was shocked to realize that risotto requires neither butter nor cream. I mean, butter and cream obviously make it better, but you can have a perfectly lovely risotto without them. I don’t entirely understand the science—something about the arborio rice releasing the starches that make risotto so beautifully creamy—but I’m willing to take it on faith. All you have to do is saute the rice in some olive oil, add wine, and then ladle in broth. A few stirs every now and then while you prep the other ingredients, and you have a lusciously rich and creamy cream-free meal. With this one, I stirred in some asparagus and morel mushrooms that I’d sauteed, along with seared scallops, and it was sublime.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo, since I was too busy juggling three pans on the stove and an olive oil pound cake in the oven. So instead, you get a gratuitous picture of my cat.

Mmmmm, risotto.

Basic risotto
Adapted, barely, from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4-6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is coated with the butter or oil, 2-3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then the white wine. Stir and let the liquid cook off.

Use lade to begin adding the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition. Once one ladleful has almost evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium-high and stir frequently.

About 20 minutes after adding the rice, taste to see if it’s tender but with a tiny bit of crunch. When it’s ready, which could take as long as 30 minutes, stir in the parmesan.

Add toppings of choice and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.