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Risotto Made My Nonni’s Way

Published on January 30, 2024

Risotto Plated

The story of how special memories can inspire a generation and also why Risotto is a labor of love but so worth it.

Growing up in the ’70s, our kitchen had a prominent sign, “The Kitchen is Closed.” We all knew it meant, “Do NOT come in here and mess things up, the chef is on a break, and you should have eaten more at the last meal!”

It’s pretty safe to say that sentiment helped foster the joy of cooking for me and all of my siblings because, let’s be honest, we all want what we can’t have. Growing up, there were influences that made us want to eat good food. Sure, we had our fair share of hot dogs, pinto beans, and tuna noodle casserole, but when we ate at my Grandmother’s Italian table in San Francisco, the overlying theme had a Tuscan flair. Authentic dishes from the old world and family traditions called us to carry on the nostalgia and joy of cooking. 

This timeless Italian rice dish not only allows me to connect with my Italian heritage, but also serves as a delicious way to express my love for cooking. The process is slow and rhythmic, crafting the perfect risotto links us to the past and present. We have adjusted our recipe over the years, creating the most flavorful one-bowl dish to comfort the soul.

To start, you must select the right rice variety, preferably Arborio. The high starch content contributes to the creamy texture. Begin by pouring yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc because 25 minutes in the kitchen lovingly stirring and gradually adding ladles of hot, flavorful broth is meditative in nature. And using wine in our risotto is imperative.

The key is patience, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. The result should be a velvety, perfectly cooked Italian risotto that pays homage to the chefs in our family kitchens, satiates the bellies in the household, and allows you to put up the sign “The Kitchen is Closed.”

Enjoy that glass and our recipe!


  • 5 cups hot chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 T Olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • 2 T butter
  • 5 Chanterelle mushrooms dusted clean
  • ¼ cup Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc
  • 6 asparagus spears
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with chopped parsley


Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan; reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan to keep hot.

In another heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 3T olive oil over medium-low heat, add in onion and saute until very tender but not brown (about 5-7 minutes).

Add in garlic and stir for about 2 minutes.

Increase heat slightly and add in the rice; stir for 1 minute.

Slowly add in 1 1/2 cups hot broth and boil gently at medium heat, stirring only to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Do not overstir.  

Once broth is absorbed, add in another 1 cup broth, and stir until absorbed.

Add in 1/2 cup broth at a time allowing the broth to absorb each time before adding in another 1/2 cup (do this until you have used up all of the broth), this should take 25-30 minutes.

While rice is cooking, heat 2 T butter in a separate cast iron skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes at medium heat. Remove and set aside.

Heat the same pan over high heat and add ¼ cup Sauvignon Blanc. Once boiled, remove the reduced wine and add it to the mushrooms that are aside.

Using the same pan, parcook your asparagus in boiling water. 2-4 minutes and let cool off to the side in a dish. Then cut into 1” pieces.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese to the hot rice and add cooked mushrooms, asparagus and chopped spinach. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a dish or low bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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