I love making risotto, because it is so simple, and can be kicked up a notch very easily. Here is one variation I did recently.
Beet and Beet Green Risotto:
-One bunch beets: roots roasted and diced ( slice off stems leaving 1/4 inch, place in baking dish, fill with a 1/4 inch of water, cover and roast for 45 mins, or until fork goes in easily, then peel of skins) greens rinsed and chopped.
-1/2 onion, or one bunch green onion (chopped)
– 1/3 cup arborio rice
-1/4 cup Parmesan
-One handful of parsley (chopped)
Saute onion in oil for two or three minutes, then add rice, saute for a minute or two, and then add a small amount of hot chicken stock, when absorbed add a little more, after about ten to 15 minutes, add in diced beets and beet greens, and continue to cook, adding stock when needed until al dente. When done cooking add Parmesan cheese, pepper and parsley to taste. If you are not a big fan of beets this is an easy way to use them, plus the color makes it unique.
I also enjoy making orzo, if I feel like rice, but want the texture of pasta. I cook it in a similiar fashion to risotto, using chicken stock and onion
Orzo with Arugula Pesto:
-one bunch arugula (can also use Asian greens)
-3 garlic cloves
-one handful toasted pine nuts
-juice of one lemon
-1/4 cup orzo
-1/4 onion chopped or one bunch green onion
– Chicken stock
First make the arugula pesto. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend, slowly adding oil until a paste forms. Season with pepper, or more garlic or Parmesan to taste.
Saute onion in oil for two or three minutes, then add in orzo and hot chicken stock. When al dente, stir in a tablespoon or two of pesto.
Note: I added a little heavy cream to make this a little richer. Also, the arugula pesto can be very spicy, I also made a version with half spinach and half arugula to take it down a notch.