Mozzarella has the virtue of being lower in calories and fat than most cheeses, at only 80 calories per ounce. It is worth seeking out authentic fresh mozzarella for its sweet, milky flavor and its ability to melt in such a wonderfully satisfying way. Packaged low-moisture mozzarella is both rubbery and flavorless.
In this wonderfully simple recipe that I learned from reading Marcella Hazan, hot boiled risotto rice is mixed with fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. The heat of the rice melts the mozzarella into thin strands, making an utterly satisfying quick main course. Although I usually make this dish with a round-grain risotto rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli, you can use just about any large-kernel grain you like, such as brown rice or farro. The only caveat is that this dish must be eaten at once, while it is hot, or it will cool into a rubbery mass.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course, side dish
Dietary Considerationmain course, side dish
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, herby, savory
- 1 1/3 cups risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 7 ounces salted fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded (1¾ cups)
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a medium heavy saucepan of water to a boil; salt liberally. Stir in the rice, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the rice is tender but still slightly firm, about 20 minutes.
Drain the rice well and return it to the hot pan, or transfer it to a warm serving dish.
Toss with the butter, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the mozzarella, stirring until it is stringy and melted. Serve at once, passing the Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side.
2001 Sally Schneider