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No-Stir ‘Risotto’ for Kid-Friendly Dinner

Rice-based risotto recipe kids will love

Rice-based risotto recipe kids will love

As a mom of two, there are a few dishes I hardly make anymore. I used to be that girl standing at the stove, leisurely (even lovingly) stirring risotto in my copper risotto pot while sipping a glass of wine. But those days are gone, at least until my now-crawling infant son stops climbing up my legs and my daughter is in grade school (she’s 4½).

But the risotto girl inside me was revived when I stumbled upon Ina Garten’s recipe for “risotto.” The quote marks are in there because this is not the classic risotto; this is a brilliant, mom-friendly “risotto” that takes away the spoon and uses the oven instead. And not only is the process a salvation for moms, the flavors are perfect for kids. (Skip the peas if your kids are the white-foods-only sort; or mix in pureed butternut squash for a little color and a serving of vegetable.)

My only change to the recipe was when to add the wine. The white wine is crucial for flavor, but Garten’s instruction to add it during the last two minutes of cooking seemed a little too boozy for a kid’s meal. So I added it in the beginning, with the chicken stock, as I would with a traditional risotto. And use the best Parmesan you can find (ideally the real Parmigiano-Reggiano); the nutty, rich flavor is incomparable and makes it feel grown-up even if you’re sitting at the kid’s table.

Easy Parmesan ‘Risotto’

Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?”

Serves 4 to 6


1½ cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, (preferably homemade), divided
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas


1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Place the rice, 4 cups of the chicken stock, and the wine in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
3. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.
4. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Zester Daily contributor Laura Holmes Haddad lives with her husband, daughter and son in Northern California, where she writes about wine and food and runs her website, Her latest collaboration is “Plats du Jour: A Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country” with the girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma, Calif., released in November 2011.

Photo: No-stir “risotto.” Credit: Laura Holmes Haddad

Zester Daily contributor Laura Holmes Haddad lives with her husband, daughter and son in Northern California, where she writes about wine and food and runs her website, Her latest collaboration is "Plats du Jour: A Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country" with the girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma, California, released in November 2011.

  • Donna Wayne 6·15·12

    I love the new format and I really love this recipe. I plan on making it tonite. I always have great success with the “contessa’s” recipes and I love having a good one singled out for me. Thank you Laura, and with no toddlers, I may just go for the “boozy” version.

  • Marcella Hazan 6·19·12

    I understand that we shall never turn back the throngs of the “no” sayers: no-stir risotto, no-peeled asparagus, no-homemade mayonnaise, they keep coming. It takes me, an old woman, exactly 25 minutes to make a hand stirred risotto. I can even put it aside after 15 minutes, cool it, and finish it later. Has Laura totaled how long it takes her to produce her baked risotto? Are the few minutes separating her dish from mine worth counting? Are they worth bringing up her children on dishes that fall short of their potential savor? All that aside, the contessa is wrong on several counts. The flavor base of a risotto goes in at the beginning, not the end. Boozy is never a desirable attribute of cooking with wine. It’s the acid, not the alcohol, that enhances the flavor of a dish, there should be no bitter trace of alcohol in any finished dish. Nor should you be adding liquid of any kind to a finished risotto. Moreover, why has arborio become the default rice for risotto, when carnaroli is so superior?

  • Sister Janet Strong 6·20·12

    I agree with Marcella Hazan.

  • Blue 7·15·15

    I’m just a home cook and I, too, used to make risotto the usual way before I had kids. But I just made this and it turned out great–approved by both me and the kids. I didn’t have white wine on hand so I added a couple of lemon squeezes (also added some chives). Not restaurant quality, but yummy just the same–and a total of about 5 active minutes to put together instead of stirring for 25, netting me 20 minutes to play with my toddler, enjoy his company instead of his screaming, and ensure that he didn’t damage himself/our stuff/the cat. Win.

  • Anon 4·10·16

    Love this! Super easy but I omitted the salt as the broth and Parmesan cheese added enough saltiness! I used regular white rice instead of arborio. Thanks for posting this and yes very mom friendly when u don’t have time to watch a crawling infant and cook at the stove for 30mins!