One of my favorite restaurants to go to when I was at Purdue was Bistro 501. It has a French influence and they focus on providing fresh, local food, changing their menu based on what’s seasonally available. This is where I celebrated my graduation with my family and very best friends. My absolute favorite dish, which I order almost every time, is the seared salmon. The chef cooks it to perfection so it’s super tender, then layers it on top of a bed of tomato risotto and grilled asparagus and finishes it off with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Although I’ve tried countless times to cook salmon so it melts like butter in my mouth, I haven’t even come close to mastering it. Something I HAVE mastered, however, is duplicating the tomato risotto they serve underneath it.
Risotto has a bad rap of being “complicated” and “time-consuming”, but that is not the case. Yes, it does take some stirring, but not as much as people make it out to include. Make sure to use Arborio rice, not just regular rice in this recipe as it soaks up the liquid better, producing the thick, creamy texture characteristic of risotto. To up the nutrition even more, I added a handful of spinach to my version. Feel free to add additional vegetables as well! This dish can be served as a main dish or as a side to chicken or fish.
Another perk to this dish? The fact that you need wine to cook it, so it’s only natural to pour yourself the obligatory glass to drink as well. Happy cooking!
Serves 4-6 main dishes or 8 side dishes
2 T olive oil
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 C Arborio rice
2 T tomato paste
2 cans reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 C dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
1/3 C Parmesan
1/3 C mozzarella
½ C tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ C chopped spinach (optional)
½ tsp. dried Italian herbs
Ground pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Mix in garlic and rice and then add wine. Continuously stir until wine is absorbed. Toss in tomatoes. Slowly add broth in ½ C increments and keep stirring until absorbed. Turn off heat and add herbs and tomato paste. Finally, add mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses as well as spinach if using. Stir until cheese is melted and spinach is wilted. Serve as a main dish or as a side with fish or chicken and always with a glass of wine!