Dinara Safina Risotto
Dinara Safina is just the greatest tennis player ever. FACT. That’s why Maz and I started this blog.
The inspiration for this post comes from her post-match interview after she defeated Elena Baltacha on Friday at the Australian Open:
Q. You looked really relaxed out there. What did you do on your day off?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, yesterday what I do? Nothing. Practice as early as possible because I want to have as much rest as possible. So I practice early. Then I come back to the hotel. I eat somewhere close to the hotel. Then just hanging around in the room, watching movies.
The only thing I did yesterday, I went to the bookstore, and I bought from Julie and Julia cookbook. This is what made me walk out of the room.
Q. Did you see the movie?
DINARA SAFINA: That’s what made me buy the book. I had to buy two books. I like cooking. I’m having new apartment in Moscow. I’m like, Okay, instead of library of books, I’ll have cookbooks. I want to cook.
Q. Did you watch any tennis?
DINARA SAFINA: Yes, a little bit of Baghdatis against David Ferrer. Very good match. Was somewhere else playing? I think that’s it.
Q. Are you a good cook?
DINARA SAFINA: I’m just starting, you know. Until now nobody got sick, so this is the positive (smiling.) They might like, not like, but if they have problems with the stomach, it’s not good.
But until now, nobody would complain about the stomach (laughter).
Q. What is your signature dish?
DINARA SAFINA: Actually, I can make not bad asparagus, risotto with asparagus. This is the thing that I can do. And, of course, green salad with olive oil.
THIS is why we’d be BFF if we ever met. I am a STUD at making risotto. It’s yummy, creamy comfort food. You can do it up a million ways too.
My recipe is orginally from Mario Batali (if ever a person knew risotto, it’s this dude), but I am so awesome at making it now that I don’t even use a recipe. Yup, I am bragging again. It just feels so good when you can go renegade. It’s like driving alone for the first time after you get your license. Or something.
Serves 2 meal-sized portions
Time: 45 minutes
- 125 g Arborio rice – You can find it in the supermarket in the Italian section, or Whole Foods has it in bulk, which is much cheaper.
- 1/2 of an onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) white wine – broth is okay if you abstain
- at least 4 cups (950 mL) of low-sodium chicken broth – vegetable if you’re vegetarian
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 50 g grated Parmesan cheese – reserve a little for sprinkling
- olive oil
- Chop the onion and garlic and saute in a big skillet on medium for 8ish minutes, or until the onions are tender. Do not brown them.
- Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth in a big saucepan. I usually add another cup or can (if your broth comes in cans) of water. Bring to a steaming simmer, but not boiling.
- When the onions and garlic are ready, add the rice to the pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes.
- The fun part: pour the white wine over the rice. It will bubble up and steam. (If you have a gas stove, you might want to turn the flame down just in case.) Using a wooden spoon, stir until the wine is absorbed by the rice.
- Add 1 ladleful of hot chicken broth to the rice, and stir until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat again and again, until the rice is al dente. You don’t have to stir constantly, but make sure the rice doesn’t start to stick to the bottom of the pan. You might need to add more broth/water to the pot. This whole process usually takes about 25-30 minutes for me. It is tedious and time-consuming, I know, but all the stirring is what brings out the creaminess of the dish.
- Add the butter to the risotto, let it melt, then add the Parmesan cheese and let it melt too.
- Note: If you’d like to add some crunchy green veggies – asparagus and peas are common, but I like broccoli too – just steam them and add at the end. Serve with a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Risotto for advanced learners: A few weeks ago, after I made the Crema de Calabaza soup, I had half of a butternut squash leftover, so I decided to get creative with my risotto. I roasted the squash, pureed it, and set it aside. In my big risotto pan, I fried up 4 strips of bacon. When they were crispy, I took them out of the pan and set them aside too, and then I drained off some of the bacon grease (but not all!). I fried a chopped onion and minced garlic in the bacon grease. Then I made the risotto like in steps 4 and 5 above. At the end, I stirred in the butternut squash, a little bit of sage, 3/4 of the bacon crumbled up, the butter, and the cheese. I sprinkled with cheese and the rest of the bacon. It was delish and very filling.
I leave you with one of the best Dinara videos of all time. Cooking with Dinara and Diet Tips: