You put what in the dish?

Strawberry risotto

When you discuss putting non-traditional ingredients in an iconic dish there can be a strong response from purists who see the addition as sacrilege. Suggest adding peas to guacamole or cream to pasta carbonara, for instance, and the comments section of the blog post will feature plenty of righteous indignation. Sometimes, however, putting in unusual ingredients is just the ticket - and it might even have historical precedent, as Jason Wilson of The Washington Post found regarding the use of fruit in risotto.

Wilson recalls eating a risotto with blueberries at a restaurant in Italy. While not "love at first bite", the flavor combination began to grow on him, and by the end of the meal he was smitten. Being a traditionalist, however, he was reluctant to start throwing fruit nilly-willy into a risotto. When talking with locals in the Alto Adige region, however, he was told that the dish is typical in the Italian Alps.

Not everyone he spoke with agreed that using fruit in risotto was a common practice. A few people scoffed at the idea, and one gentleman "grew so incensed at the idea of fruit risotto that he uttered a common vulgar slang." But Wilson persisted and found several recipes in The Silver Spoon cookbook and a handful of others in Italian magazines. He came to the conclusion that "fruit risotto is definitely a thing, but it's the sort of thing that most Italians won't talk about."

Wilson says that the key to using fruit in a savory risotto is to introduce a significant savory element to offset the sweetness. He also makes hia own vegetable broth, which uses "lots of leeks and root vegetables that create an earthier, more flavorful yet lighter broth than you can buy." Wilson provides recipes for a blueberry and chive risotto, peach and pancetta Risotto, and pear, Gorgonzola and pistachio risotto. Do these combinations sound interesting to you?

Photo of Strawberry risotto from Food52 by Sara Jenkins

2 Comments

  • tangaloor  on  8/11/2016 at 12:13 AM

    Orange-mint risotto is just wonderful.

  • ellabee  on  8/14/2016 at 12:53 PM

    The last two sound pretty appealing -- proven flavor combinations, against the fairly neutral background of rice. Less sure about blueberry-chive, could depend heavily on the execution.

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