A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe that sounded and looked so much like perfect rainy day comfort food that I just couldn’t resist. And boy am I glad I gave it a try.
Not only did it cure me of my completely unfounded fear of risottos, it turned out to be so amazingly quick and delicious that it has earned a permanent spot on our “Busy, busy, don’t have time to cook anything complicated”-list.
And I am not kidding when I say that it’s quick and easy to make. If you have all the ingredients at home, you could be enjoying a bowl of this ooey gooey goodness in about 30 minutes (plus however long it takes you to sprint from your computer to the kitchen).
I have slightly adapted the recipe to give it a little bit more of a kick, but the basics remain the same. A word of warning: don’t be too liberal with the red pepper flakes. They will simmer in the rice mixture for about 20 minutes, so they have plenty of time to add all their crazy spice to the risotto. A pinch should be plenty, unless you like it super hot.
If you can’t find any good Italian sausage, you can use ground pork and simply add more spices (basil, fennel seed, oregano, parsley, paprika, and thyme are typically found in Italian sausage).
And now for the best part: freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is no time to skimp, people, don’t use pre-grated or processed “Parmesan”. Go for the real deal, it’s well worth it. And while I warned you to not be too generous with the pepper flakes, this rule does not apply to Parmesan (ever)! Just be sure to not season the risotto with salt until after the cheese and butter have been added. Parmesan is very salty and the last thing you want to do is oversalt this beautiful dish when you are so close to achieving creamy-cheesy-tomatoey bliss.
Are you ready for this?
Italian Sausage Risotto with Tomatoes and Spinach
- 1 small can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- dried thyme, red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- 3 cups baby spinach and/or arugula
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (plus more to garnish)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt, pepper
- fresh basil to garnish
- In medium saucepan, combine tomatoes with water. Bring to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.
- Heat oil in large saucepan. Add sausage, onions, and garlic. Break sausage up with spatula. Cook until onions are translucent and sausage is opaque, about 5 minutes. Add dried thyme and red pepper flakes.
- Add rice and stir until well coated in oil. Add wine and cook until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Add about 2 cups of tomato mixture. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occassionally, until completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Continue adding about 1 cup of tomato mixture at a time. Wait for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next cup. Cook until rice is creamy and tender, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in grated Parmesan and butter. Add spinach and/or arugula. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, topped with more grated Parmesan and fresh basil.