Lunchbox Monday: Pressure Cooker Risotto, Naturally Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on November 7, 2011

As you are coming to know, I am a fan of time-saving devices in the kitchen. My crockpot is a life saver that is in almost constant use during the school year. And I use my pressure cooker all the time, as well. We got our pressure cooker about 14 years ago. And it’s still going strong. Whenever I talk about using it, people freak out and tell stories about their mom’s (or grandmother’s) pressure cooker that exploded all over the kitchen. They say they would never use one because they are so dangerous.

There is no need to worry as long as you use a modern pressure cooker. I do not recommend that you buy a used pressure cooker.  And don’t use the one your grandma used.  Modern pressure cookers have a bunch of safeguards built in to make sure they don’t explode. In fact, I don’t think you could get one to explode if you tried.  That’s how safe they are.  And they are miracles of modern technology.  You can quickly soak dried beans in 5 minutes.  You can then cook said beans in 3-15 minutes.  I would own a pressure cooker for this reason alone.  The ability to use dried beans without having to plan ahead and soak them makes the pressure cooker worth its weight in gold for me.

Another thing that pressure cookers do is make perfect risotto.  I know what you’re thinking–no way can a pressure cooker make “real” risotto.  I thought the same thing before I made it.   I am a fan of well-made risotto.  For years, I made it the old-fashioned way–standing over the stove, adding broth little by little and stirring.  And that was fine.  But, the time and effort involved made it more of a weekend meal rather than a weekday meal or lunch idea.  All that has changed now that I know about pressure cooker risotto.  It is amazing!  And you can make risotto in about 15 minutes.  Wow.

I got the original idea from this recipe on the Food Network site.  As usual, I made my own tweaks to suit my and my family’s tastes.  I usually use onions and squash in it, but you can actually use any vegetable you want.  I’ve done it with cauliflower, carrots, and green beans.  Feel free to tweak it to your own tastes.

And, of course, it is a wonderful lunchbox meal.  Just heat it and but it in a thermos.  Girlfriend loves this risotto so much, she would eat it almost every day!  And the ability to tweak it to your own needs and tastes makes it a very kid-friendly meal.

Pressure Cooker Risotto, Naturally Gluten-Free
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped (and peeled if necessary) zucchini (for summer) or butternut squash (for winter)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups broth of your choice (if you use commercial broth, be sure it’s labeled gluten-free)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Freshly group pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a 6 quart pressure cooker over medium heat.  Add squash, onion, garlic, and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just getting soft, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and stir until all grains are coated with oil.

Add white wine and stir.  Add broth and stir.

Lock the lid into place, increase heat to high, a bring cooker to high pressure.  Once pressure is high, lower heat to maintain pressure and cook for 3 minutes.

Remove cooker from heat and quickly reduce pressure.  I do this by placing the pressure cooker in the sink and running cold water over it until the pressure is released.

Carefully open the lid.  The rice should be al dente and the liquid should be soupy.  Add the parmesan and stir to combine.  Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

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