I’ve got to be honest. I’m a little drained from the holidays. Too much to do, too much shopping, too much shovelling and too much illness (did everyone catch the flu?). That and I’m tired of it being dark so early at night and dark when I wake up in the morning. I’ve got the January blues. This weather, and this feeling, calls for some Italian soul cooking. The good filling stuff that keeps you warm and is easy to throw in the oven. That means last weekend, I threw together some baked risotto for dinner.
This baked risotto recipe is a specialty from my grandfather and my aunt. Cheesy and gooey on the inside, crispy on the top and sides (that’s a requirement), this is winter comfort food at its best. If you have some sauce to use up, it’s a great alternative to pasta. And the leftovers, crisped up even more in the toaster oven, are great the next day.
Baked Risotto with Peas
4 cups cooked abrorio or short grain rice
2 cups meat sauce (ground beef or shredded pork and beef are great options)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (add more if you love cheese!)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas
Cook the rice in ample water to al dente. Drain in a strainer and leave it to cool slightly, for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees, on convection if possible. Add the water to the meat sauce to lengthen the sauce and better coat the rice. Lightly butter or oil a glass 9×9 pan.
Return the rice to the pot. Add in the sauce and peas and stir until combined. Add the parmigiano cheese and half of the mozzarella and mix together. When combined, pour the mixture into the glass pan, leveling out the rice so it bakes evenly.
Bake, covering the top with foil, for 45-60 minutes or until crispy along the edges. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and broil until bubbling and brown. Serve immediately.