Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dinner during Dora: Carrot-Parmesan Risotto

It has been a long, long time since I posted a Dinner during Dora post. I've got several recipes cued up- some even with some pictures taken- but I just haven't found time to write the posts. In the meantime, I think I've picked up some new readers, so if you don't know what a Dinner during Dora post is, you can check out the rationale in the first one. But briefly, the idea is that these are recipes that I can make in the limited time I have between getting home from work and dinner time, i.e., about the length of an episode of Dora.

Tonight's recipe is a risotto. I'm a sucker for a good risotto. OK, I'm a sucker for even a halfway decent risotto. Let's just say that Pumpkin comes by her carb-loving ways naturally. I haven't been making risottos that much these days, because none of my favorite risotto recipes can be completed in anything close to the time I have allotted for weeknight dinner preparation. (You may wonder why I don't make them on the weekends, when there is more time for dinner prep- the answer is that weekend dinners are usually Hubby's problem.)

But then, I learned that you can make a risotto in the microwave. I won't lie- I've yet to produce a risotto that is as good as one made the old-fashioned way. But I've reliably produced some more than halfway decent risottos, and referring back to one of my favorite quotes of all time, I'm not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

This recipe is for my favorite microwave risotto (so far- I'm sure I'll try converting some more recipes). It only works in the Dora time slot if you pre-grate the carrots- I usually do them the night before and leave them in the fridge in a tupperware container. If I know I'll be home a little early, I don't bother- then the meal takes about 30 minutes total to assemble and cook.

Carrot-Parmesan Risotto


26 oz. chicken stock (I use stock, not broth, in this recipe- I think it makes a richer flavor)
2 tbs butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 medium carrots, grated (I use the fine grater)
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white cooking wine
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Asiago- that gives the risotto more flavor. I use a mix, if I have both on hand)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine butter, onion, and carrots in a 2.5 quart microwave-safe dish. (I've used smaller and had it be OK, but I tend to make a mess when I try to stir, so I prefer the bigger dish.) Microwave on high for ~2 minutes, stir, and then microwave for another 2 minutes. (Obviously, you may need to tweak these cooking times for your microwave.)

2. Add rice, stir to coat, and microwave for 3 minutes.

3. Add broth and wine. Stir and microwave for 9 minutes. Then stir again and microwave for 6 minutes.

4. Remove from the microwave. It will still be quite watery:

5.  Let stand 5-9 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is largely absorbed. I am never patient enough at this step, and end up with risotto that is a bit on the runny side. It is usually perfect by the time I'm packing up leftovers....

6. Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper.

Here's the final product:

I often serve this with my picky eater's green beans, which makes an all-microwave meal. I can microwave the green beans while the risotto is resting. The all-microwave aspect of the meal leads to one of my favorite things about it: the all-dishwasher clean up:

Source: I modified this from a recipe I found online, at Martha Stewart's site, of all places. Petunia had shown an interest in rice, so I was looking for new recipes to try on her.

Who Eats It: Hubby, me and Petunia. Petunia really likes it. Pumpkin does not share her interest in rice (she prefers pasta), and is deeply suspicious of the carrots.


  1. paola6:26 AM

    I'm a sucker for a decent risotto too. YOurs looks really great btw.

    Hubby does the risottos in our house. He does a mean sausage meat pumpkin and beans risotto( a local Milanese dish). Timing is the most important factor for a decent, perfectly cooked risotto in my (unsolicitated)opinion. His are always 'al dente' ( as yours seem to be from the photos) and he cooks them for 18 minutes only from the moment the water starts boiling to when the gas is turned off. Adding up the minutes your risotto takes to cook, the time is about the same, the only difference is that a non-microwaved risotto needs to be turned periodically ( ok, often) to releases the starch which is what makes it thick and rich.

    I often do a really simple version for the kids with left over soup and arborio rice cooked for 10 minutes by itself and then adding the soup once the water has nearly evaporated. The cheats version, but still comes out ok.

  2. We love risottos here too. Have you ever tried cooking them in a pressure cooker? I swear by my pressure cooker for getting a good meal on the table quickly and I can do a risotto in less than 20 minutes using the pressure cooker and it is (I think) as yummy as a traditional risotto.

    Your recipe looks great - a good way to get some veggies in the kids. I'm definitely going to try it out.

  3. @Paola- we have electric burners, not gas, which means stove top cooking is slow. If I'm in a hurry to make pasta, I have to preboil the water in our electric kettle.

    Frequent stirring is definitely important for a nice creamy risotto. I think that is probably why the microwave version isn't quite as good. But it is easier!

  4. the milliner7:30 AM

    We love risotto too. Well DH & I do. DS is off and on. Our standby is mushroom. Pretty much same recipe as your carrot one, but done stovetop. Never realised that gas stove vs. electric makes a big difference as it's one of our quick dinners as @Paola mentioned. But yeah, gas stove here.

    After years of making risotto I also finally figured out that keeping it a little bit runnier than I would like to eat it, while it's in the pot, ensures that by the time it gets to the table and we sit down to eat it, it's really creamy and the right consistency...not too stiff. I guess watching Top Chef paid off.

    My favorite thing to do with leftover risotto is make arancini ( served with a quick tomato sauce made by blending a can of san marzano tomatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt & oregano or basil. Yum. And quick.

    @Jacq, I haven't had too much success yet in doing it in the slow cooker. But I haven't tried it a lot.

  5. Anonymous12:50 PM

    I love risotto but never cook it because of the time and attention it requires. We'll have to try this one out!!

  6. Don't you know I was JUST thinking about how much I love risotto but never have time to make it! This might solve that delimma! Or I could do it over the weekend... I just really want to start cooking more, and this is good inspiration.

  7. Risotto in the microwave. I had no idea. Everyone in my family will eat risotto but it is too hot in the kitchen to make it in the summer. I will try this at least once.

    BTW, polenta in the microwave is a winner.

    Also, I just tried the black bean burger recipe from the Angry Chicken blog and it was a hit with the kids. It's vegan, but we ate it with sliced cheese and typical hamburger fixings and it was surprisingly good. Since it is all made in the food processor in one batch and bakes in 20 minutes, there is Dinner with Dora potential there.

  8. Great recipe. I love Parmesan cheese and this is such a clever way to taste all its goodness!
    I recently wrote an article on how real Parmesan cheese is made and on its nutritional value. Check it out and let me know your thoughts, I would really appreciated it!


    Mike @TheIronYou


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