Risotto with Carrots Four Ways

March  1, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a tough one, Food 52. But I like it. It was hard to come up with the recipe I most want to be remembered for. Many of my most cherished recipes come from my grandmother's favorite cookbook, The Art of Italian Cooking, or from my father. It's challenging to think about what recipes have defined you, and which ones you want to pass down. When I asked my husband which I should submit, he said this one. It was really good. So here you go, an elegant (I think) nod to my Italian heritage, rich and comforting, just like the food I grew up with.

I've already talked about how much I love carrots, and how I turned orange as a baby from eating too many. As I grew older my love of carrots only grew. I always liked them best raw, and if they still had the green tops on all the better. That way I could do an impression of my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny.

I knew I wanted to make a carrot risotto, but I often find the flavor in carrot risottos to be flat. In order to create layers and depth of flavor I decided to prepare the carrots in four different ways, to get all the earthy, sweet notes that you can get from various techniques. So, it involves a bit of preparation and dirtying a few pans, but I promise it's worth it. And honestly, I didn't find that it took too much longer than usual for risotto.

I roasted sliced carrots in the oven (roasted vegetables are my favorite) and caramelized them in butter on the stove top. Raw shredded carrots are sauteed with onions before the risotto is added, and carrot puree is added right after. The whole thing is topped off with decadent dollops of mascarpone and umami-rich Parmesan. I thought very seriously about using goat cheese in place of the mascarpone for a brighter, tangier flavor, but didn't want to overpower the subtle carrot taste. I do think it would be excellent though.

Some of the roasted and caramelized carrots got a little more crispy and browned than the rest, and they became the perfect garnish. Also, don't leave out the parsley. As with any good garnish, it really does add to the flavor of the dish. —kmartinelli

What You'll Need
  • 7 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Caramelize the carrots: Slice 2 of the carrots into thin, even coins. Melt the butter in a pan, add the carrots, and stir to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring infrequently, until lightly browned and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Set aside any slightly overdone pieces for garnish.
  2. Roast the carrots: Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice 2 of the carrots into thin, even coins. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Roast until lightly brown, shaking or turning pan halfway through. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Set aside any crispy bits of carrots for garnish.
  3. Puree the carrots: Roughly chop 2 of the carrots and cook in boiling water until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the water. Transfer the carrots to a food processor or blender and pulse. Add a tablespoon of the reserved cooking water at a time and blend until the texture is smooth and not too thick. You should have about 1 cup of puree. Set aside.
  4. Shred 1 carrot using the large side of a box grater. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pan (enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan). Add the shredded carrots, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent and tender.
  5. Add the risotto and stir to coat. Mix in the carrot puree. Add about 1 cup of warm broth and stir. Wait until the broth has mostly absorbed before adding more. Continue adding about 1/2 cup of broth each time it absorbs, stirring frequently. You may end up using more or less than 6 cups of broth, but for me that was perfect. The risotto should be tender but firm, moist but not soupy.
  6. Add the roasted and caramelized carrots (leaving some for garnish). Stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan. To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and garnish with Parmesan, chopped parsley, and roasted and caramelized carrots.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lorigoldsby
  • drbabs
  • aargersi
  • wssmom
  • bethmichelle
A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.

28 Reviews

lorigoldsby May 1, 2011
this is a really interesting way to get the carrot flavor--my daughter's favorite dish is risotto but she doesn't like mushrooms, so I can't wait to try it for her next month when she gets home from college!
kmartinelli May 2, 2011
Wonderful! Hope it turns out well. I love heirloom's suggestion of using the reserved carrot water along with the broth, anything to get more carrot flavor in there! :-)
drbabs April 26, 2011
Really great choice and lovely story!
kmartinelli April 27, 2011
Thanks so much drbabs!
aargersi April 25, 2011
This sounds really delicious - thought so when you first posted it too. It is HILARIOUS that you turned yourself orange when you were a kid - now that is true carrot dedication!
kmartinelli April 26, 2011
hahaha thanks aargersi!
wssmom April 25, 2011
From one carrot-lover to another, I am so glad you chose this recipe!
kmartinelli April 26, 2011
Thanks wssmom! It was so hard to choose! :-)
bethmichelle March 5, 2011
This looks and sounds absolutely divine! It may be on my menu one night this week.
kmartinelli March 5, 2011
Thanks! Let me know how it turns out! :-)
Bevi March 2, 2011
The flavor layering is fantastic, and I love the logic of your recipe.
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
Thank you so much Bevi!
Table9 March 2, 2011
Just gorgeous!
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
Thank you Table9! :-)
Sagegreen March 2, 2011
This looks really delicious.
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
Thanks Sagegreen!
hardlikearmour March 1, 2011
This looks amazing! Love that you treated the carrots in several ways to increase the complexity.
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
Thanks hardlikearmour! I even thought about doing a candied carrot type preparation for garnish, but thought that would be a little overboard ;-)
heirloom March 1, 2011
This risotto sounds great! I just love risotto and I'll definitely try yours. What about using the reserved cooking water instead of the broth or mixed to it to add even more carrot taste? Do you think a little grated nutmeg would enhance or cover the flavor? Anyway...great!
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
I love the idea of using the reserved cooking water instead of the broth. Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York does a carrot risotto and makes a simple carrot broth by boiling carrots and onions, which I thought about doing as well. I figured I already had so many steps I wanted to simplify, but I do think it would add to the flavor. Grated nutmeg might be really good too! Love all the ideas! Let me know what you end up doing!
CarolineStoll March 1, 2011
This looks so delicious - can I come to your house for dinner?! ;) Will definitely be trying this recipe.
kmartinelli March 2, 2011
Haha, I always love dinner guests! It'll probably be a bit of a long trip for you though... ;-) Let me know how it goes!
gingerroot March 1, 2011
This sounds amazing. I love risotto and look forward to trying this soon. YUM!
kmartinelli March 1, 2011
Thanks! I love your recipe too!
healthierkitchen March 1, 2011
love this!
kmartinelli March 1, 2011
I'm so glad! Thanks!
Midge March 1, 2011
What a brilliant idea. Looks and sounds wonderful.
kmartinelli March 1, 2011
Thanks Midge!