I'm somewhat of a newbie to risotto. I'd never had it before last spring. Rebecca, Ruthann and I made one with zucchini, another with green beans and a third with butternut squash. We didn't do this all in one night but we were really enjoying risotto. The zucchini from Bon Appetite: Fast, Easy, Fresh was our favorite. Its a great dish if you have a few people to feed and can send leftovers home with them.
The various vegetable combinations can really transform the veggies from the norm of steaming or sauteing. As an added bonus, I've heard that non-meatitarian families eat risotto as an meatless main for supper. If you want to go completely vegetarian you can use vegetable broth (slight shudder). I'm not a big veggie broth gal but I know there are people who are. To you I say, awesome and if you have a veggie broth you love, let me know. I'd be willing to try it.
It does take a little longer to prepare but most of the time isn't hands on time. You can walk away for a couple minutes to tend another dish and then return to stir and add a little more broth. For people who love to stir a pot, this is your dish! For people who like to walk away for a minute or two and come back, this dish works for you too! How often does that happen?
There are a few things you should know before attempting a risotto recipe.
1. What's Risotto? - a dish prepared with short to medium grained rice cooked with a broth (vegetable or meat) and finished with Parmesan cheese
2. What's Primavera? - served with a variety of fresh vegetables (This can include an oil sauce or white sauce but the only key ingredient is fresh vegetables.)
3. What's Arborio rice? - common rice for making risotto but any short to medium grain rice will do. This rice absorbs lots of fluid without becoming mushy. Look for Arborio rice at Whole Foods and you'll typically get a better price than at a supermarket. Its also available by the scoop at Whole Foods.
4. If you live by yourself, DO NOT MAKE A WHOLE RECIPE. It grows.
5. If using a stock/broth that has salt in it, don't add any extra salt until you've tasted it. It is likely that the stock will have more than enough salt.
6. Are you wondering why the recipe would call for both olive oil and butter? The olive oil can take more heat but the butter gives more flavor. Using them together allows maximum heat and flavor at once!