This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Risotto is a pretty simple food if you think about it: You can make a bowl of risotto with just short-grain rice (like Arborio or carnaroli), butter, and stock. From there, the magic of starch and the physical effort of constant stirring—like, so much stirring that it feels like an actual workout—combine to make a bowl of rice that's so much more than just the sum of its parts.
With an assortment of add-ins (wine, vegetables, cheese, herbs, spices, or all of the above), you can make risotto a meal of decadence. When you don't have as much, a creamy bowl of risotto helps you fake it until you can make it; the technique slowly turns plain rice into something that seems kinda restaurant-worthy. Plus, in stressful times like these, there's something meditative about standing there and mindlessly stirring as you stare at the wall and sip a glass of wine.
From classic Milanese risotto to mushroom risotto that'll literally take you on a trip, here are our essential risotto recipes.
Risotto Milanese Recipe
With white wine and dried porcini mushrooms, this is the classic risotto you oughta know. And since this risotto recipe comes from Aurora Leveroni—the Italian grandma also known as "Nonna Marijuana"—we definitely wouldn't judge you if you swapped in weed-infused olive oil or cannabutter.
Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction Recipe
Beet salad with goat cheese and balsamic is decidedly 90s, and while we're not ready to take the time machine back to the days of JNCO jeans and frosted tips, we've gotta acknowledge that flavor profile was so popular for a reason. Chef Lidia Bastianich turns it into a showstopper beet risotto that you'll want to make for decades.
Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe
Cooked in butternut squash broth and finished off with even more squash puree, this risotto tastes like a big spoonful of autumn flavor, even when it's not pumpkin spice latte season.
Shroomy Risotto Recipe
As the recipe's written, this mushroom risotto isn't exactly for the faint of heart since by "shroomy" we mean, well, psilocybin mushrooms. For something more appropriate for the casual weeknight or the psychedelic-unfriendly, replace the 'shrooms with dried porcinis or shiitakes.
Salt Cod and Artichoke Risotto Recipe
Salt cod is a traditional technique for preserving fish by drying it and—you guessed it—salting it heavily. The trick to eating it without getting a licking-a-block-of-salt vibe is to soak the cod first. After that, we like using it in salt cod risotto that's mellowed even further by fresh artichoke hearts.
Sausage and Chianti Risotto Recipe
Sausages and wine are basically always a winning combo. That remains true in this easy sausage and red wine risotto, which is also the best way to use up any awkward amounts of old wine lingering in the fridge.
Farro and Asparagus Risotto Recipe
Yep, you don't need rice to make a risotto. Grains like farro, a nutty-flavored type of wheat, cook into creamy risotto, too, but with a little more bite—perfect for anyone who's ever compared the dish to baby food. Plus, with asparagus and fennel, this farro risotto tastes like springtime.
Cheesy Arancini Recipe
"Oh no! I have too much risotto," said... no one ever. In fact, we'd argue that the best thing about risotto is the leftovers, which you can mix with cheese, roll into bite-sized pieces, batter, and fry. Like a mozzarella stick but maybe even better, those crispy rice balls are known as arancini, and MUNCHIES culinary director Farideh Sadeghin will teach you how to make them.