A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Bacon & Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Bacon & Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes because it's kind of like a blank canvas. If you've got a standard risotto recipe, it can be dressed up and changed up in tons of different ways so that it's never boring or the "same old" dish.


I had a risotto moment several months ago-- and mostly because I had bought one of those huge containers of arborio rice that seems to never end. So every week I was making some new creamy rice creation for dinner like this one with mushrooms, spinach, and bacon or this roasted red pepper version. Well, today I'm back on the risotto bandwagon with a recipe that is a bit of a mashup of those two old favorites.


This bacon and roasted red pepper risotto is a pretty simple update to traditional risotto. I love how the salty bacon works with the sweet red peppers-- it's the perfect flavor combination. And it works so nicely with the rich and creamy risotto and a pop of freshness from the basil leaves.


I served this as a main dish and it works perfectly for that. A bowl of risotto (plus bacon) is pretty rich. This would also make a great side dish too-- especially if you're serving guests!


Ingredients:

  •  3 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 5 strips of center-cut bacon
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1 Tbs. butter 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, divided 
  • 1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced 

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth just to a simmer. Cover and keep hot over medium low heat until you are ready to use it.

Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise, removed stem, seeds, and ribs and use the palm of your hand to gently flatten the pepper halves. Place the peppers skin side up on the foil and place under the broiler. Broil until the skin is black and blistered. Remove and transfer to a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes until peppers can be handled. When cooled, peel the blackened exterior skin off the peppers, chop into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon to the pan and cook on both sides until brown and crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain well and then crumble the bacon into small pieces.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil and the butter to the pan and adjust heat to medium. Add the onions and saute until tender (not brown), about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bacon bits and stirring until it has almost completely evaporated, approximately 3 minutes.
  
Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and stir constantly until the broth has almost completely absorbed, for 2-3 minutes. Continue stirring the rice and repeat the process of adding 1/2 cup broth at a time. Allow each 1/2 cup of broth to absorb before adding the next. Pour in the last 1/2 cup of broth along with the chopped red peppers and continue stirring to cook until the rice is chewy and firm.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the grated cheese, remaining oil, half of the crumbled bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowls, sprinkle with remaining bacon and sliced basil, and serve warm.


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