Frugal Family Feast: Risotto

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If you’ve ever tasted the creamy, savory goodness of risotto, you’ve probably put it on your list of favorite foods. Here’s a little secret: This versatile dish is really easy to make. It’s also inexpensive: perfect for our frugal family feast series, which only features recipes that will feed four for $15 or less.

Risotto starts with a short-grained rice – usually Arborio rice. You can infuse fabulous flavor by sauteing onion, garlic, and olive oil, then adding rice and liquids such as white wine and broth. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson learned how to make risotto from Chef Lenore Nolan-Ryan. Check out this video and read on for the recipe.

This is a dish with endless possibilities and is super-friendly on your wallet. Risotto can be made with chicken, seafood, or vegetable stock. You can add all kinds of meat and veggies, or use vegetables alone. Butternut squash is a great pairing, as is just about any type of mushroom. No matter what you try, risotto is a family favorite that never gets boring!

While the exact cost of ingredients in your neighborhood will vary, Chef Lenore assures us that you should easily be able to feed your family this hearty meal for less than $15.

Yellow Pepper Risotto With Shrimp and Zucchini – Courtesy of Lenore Nolan-Ryan


4 yellow bell peppers

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined, tails intact, shells rinsed and reserved

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large zucchini chopped into ¼ inch pieces

3 quarts homemade or low sodium chicken stock

6 shallots minced

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup loosely packed fresh basil finely chopped


Roast yellow peppers – Place bell peppers directly on a stove burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs as soon as each side is blistered and blackened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and discard skins. Cut in half and discard seeds and ribs. Transfer peppers to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree until smooth. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Cook shrimp – In a large bowl place shrimp and toss with ¾ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Arrange a third of the shrimp in a single layer in skillet and cook until opaque, turning once. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining shrimp wiping out skillet with paper towels between batches as needed and set aside. Cover loosely to keep warm.

Cook zucchini – In the same skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add zucchini and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, season with pepper. Cook until just tender and bright green. Remove from heat, season. Warm stock in a large saucepan over medium heat and shrimp shells. Remove shells and pour stock into a container and set aside for the rice.

Prepare rice – In the large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil and remaining butter. Add shallots and gently cook until they are getting clear but not browned. Add rice and saute for about a minute, then add white wine and pepper puree. Stir occasionally until the rice absorbs the wine. Then slowly ladle in the warmed stock, about 2 cups at a time, stir rice and let stock absorb. You’ll do this for about 20 minutes and rice will get creamy. When rice is al dente, remove from heat, mix in zucchini and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir, let sit for about 5 minutes, sprinkle with basil and serve.

When you try it, go to our Facebook page and tell us how you like it!

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