The end of the culinary week is here.  Grocery shopping (and Pasta Monday!) is tomorrow.  That means I should really use up the things that are in the house…

It’s actually pretty easy to do.  If it’s hot out, I make salads.  If it’s cold, soups and casseroles.  It’s really nothing more than taking a disparate bunch of items and uniting them with a common item, be it a salad dressing, a spice, a broth, sauce, or gravy.

And yes, it really is that basic.

Risotto, at it’s most basic form, is rice and liquid.  Add some cheese.  Add some vegetables. Add some meat or seafood.  Add all of them.   The end result is still rice and liquid – sometimes with stuff mixed in with it, as well.

And that is how I approached tonight’s dinner.

I started by dicing a couple of carrots and about 8oz of mushrooms.  Into my most-favorite Le Creuset braiser with a bit of olive oil.  The pan is getting close to 30 years old.  It is perfect for so many things, but it is stellar for risotto.  It’s flat-out one of my most favorite cooking utensils.

Next into the pan was  about 10 ounces of diced ham.  I added a pat of butter and a cup of Vialone Nano rice.  I had heard that both Vialone Nano and Carnarioli rices were superior to arborio in making risotto, so I picked up a box of each to see.  I’ve only used the Vialone Nano thus far, and yes, it’s really good – but not worth three times the price of the arborio.  Granted, I haven’t made a classic risotto dish with it, yet, but my discerning palate isn’t discerning three times the price.

I stirred the rice, cooked it until it was translucent, and then started adding broth.  I made it the traditional way, adding a ladle of broth, letting it absorb, adding another…  It took about 25 minutes.  I added a cup of frozen peas, an ounce of grated parmesan, and a couple ounces of grated cotija cheese.  As I said earlier, this was a clean-out-the-refrigerator dish.

It was all the things it was supposed to be… creamy and flavorful with lots of different textures.  It was definitely a good cruise-into-fall dish.

Tomorrow is Pasta Monday.  Victor has already made a fresh pasta – tagliatelle – for tomorrow’s dinner.

Maybe I’ll bake some bread…..