Recipe: Mango Risotto

OK, I know this sounds really weird, but this side dish was the perfect accompaniment to dinner recently.  As you can see by the photo, I was making tilapia (not using the recipe for Ali’s Rock Star Tilapia… just wanted to saute’ the fillets with some paprika) and I decided to make a side dish that would utilize the mangos that I picked up at Sam’s Club recently.


My younger son is a huge fan of the mango fruit, so I decided to attempt a spicy/sweet risotto that would include this yummy ingredient.  I peeled and chopped two mangos and popped them into a saucepan with 1 cup of white wine (I used Potomac Point Viognier this time… could just as easily have used James River Cellars’ Chardonel or Vidal Blanc) and 1 cup of water.  I brought the liquid to a low simmer and cooked the fruit until I could mash it easily with a potato masher.

I added 3/4 cup arborio rice and seasoned with a little chicken consomme powdersalt & pepper  before allowing the rice to cook and soak up all the yummy flavors.  Simmering the rice took about a half hour, but I was watching to see if I needed to add any more liquid.  Note:  the liquid absorbed faster than I expected, so I added a touch of James River Cellars’ Hanover White Wine, to stay with the sweet/spicy theme.

Once the liquid was absorbed and the rice was tender, I added a handful of parmesan cheese and a heavy dash of paprika to taste.  This side dish ended up having a tasty blend of mango and spice that paired really well with the sautee’d fish.

Nothing like having something go over well when you’re totally winging it, right?  I was definitely a fan and will work this dish into the “meal rotation” going forward…  YUM!

Recipe: Merlot Risotto with Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onions

This is one of those “O M G” recipes for those of you who like a creamy rice dish.  It’s got flavor and just enough texture… it’s decadent yet simple enough to make for a quick dinner… and it’s got lots of ingredients that can be flipped around to suit almost any finicky guest.  Even better, it’s based on a recipe that my boss uses at her house!  It became a staple in her house after her trip to Rome… it’s going to become a staple in my own house because it’s just so darn tasty.  You’ll have to try it and see what YOU think.

Merlot Risotto


4 Tablespoons of olive oil (divided 2T +2T)

Garlic (to taste – I like a lot, so I use 3-4 cloves worth)

1 1/4 cup arborio rice (I used a medium-length rice since I couldn’t find arborio but might use a short-grain next time)

1 cup James River Cellars’ Merlot (You can also use Cabernet Franc or another deep red wine of your choosing)

3 cups beef stock (If you’re making this for a vegetarian, simply use vegetable stock instead)

4 oz goat cheese (Use what you like and the amount you prefer – it’s the creaminess that you want here)

2 large, thinly sliced onions (You can substitute 3 cups of mushrooms or a mixture of both if you prefer)

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2T olive oil over low heat, then add onions.  Allow to slowly cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized.  If you’re using mushrooms in any form, this is where you’re going to cook them.
  2. While onions are cooking, heat remaining 2T olive oil in a large saucepan (don’t use something too small!).  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add rice, tossing to coat in the oil, and allow to toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in wine, stirring occasionally.  Once the wine is absorbed, add in 1 cup of stock and allow the rice to absorb the stock as it did with the wine.  Repeat this 2 more times until all the stock has been added and absorbed.  I didn’t stir this constantly – I didn’t feel it was necessary.  I kept an eye on it and then tasted the rice when all the liquid was absorbed – if you like a softer consistency, feel free to add another cup of stock to the rice and stir as before.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add salt/pepper, goat cheese and onions, then stir.  I like the cheese to be thoroughly incorporated before I serve it, so I don’t top each serving with bits of cheese, but feel free if that’s what you prefer.

You’ll notice that this post looks like an actual recipe… because I started with an actual recipe.  I’ve added tons of places where you can alter things to fit your preferences, but this is your starting point.  If you want to add some protein, feel free!  There’s no “RISOTTO POLICE” who will come and tell you that you’re doing things wrong.  As with any recipe where I use The Force to create a new rendition, feel free to make your own changes.  The idea is to help you think outside the box and come up with a dish that will become a favorite at your house.

After all… don’t you think the famous chefs took some inspiration from the food they ate when they were out?  It’s scary, but try it every once in awhile.  You might create a new “famous” recipe too!