Jan 17, 2013

Apple and Ham Risotto - a lighter version for #WeekdaySupper

I admire Italians, profoundly, for taking simple ingredients and creating extraordinary dishes. Think osso bucco, polenta, rice, pasta with seafood, marinara sauce, ragú, and so many others.

Today I´m giving you a combination of flavors that is exceptional and that makes a hearty yet light dinner. This is my first contribution to #WeekdaySupper, sort of the younger, carefree sister to the more formal #SundaySupper.

Risotto is one of my favorite ways to eat rice. Well made it´s a dish where flavors complement each other yet all have their own voice. The final risotto must be creamy and when you serve it will fall onto the plate like very thick, chunky soup. That silkiness is achieved by the rice´s own starch, that´s why not every rice is the right one for making risotto, and the final addition of butter and cheese, done off the heat, followed by immediate plating and eating.

Risotto, like a soufflé, waits for no one, well it waits a little longer than the soufflé but still.
This is a lighter version, with very little butter and cheese but an immense amount of flavor. Very good flavor. The reduced fat will give you a not so creamy risotto, so the flavors have to be spot on.

The apples are cooked two ways, one part melts into the risotto from the beginning and the other half is browned quickly and added at the end for crunch and texture.
It´s very important that you choose good quality ham and parmesan because you´ll be using a small quantity of each, so their flavors have to come through.
And finally the thyme. I find it essential. But then, I find the combination of apples, ham and thyme a fantastic one.

Now, if you have picky eaters you can omit the apples, double the ham and add another cheese such as cheddar, and maybe some spinach. But then you´d have to change the name, wouldn´t you?
And if you like the flavors but want a regular, creamy risotto, just triple the amount of butter and cheese and add it at the end, and double the amount of rice.
Either way it´s a winner.

adapted from The Best American Recipes 2000, by F.McCullough and S. Hamlin

2 to 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 teaspoons butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 apple, I use granny smith
2/3 cups uncooked rice, such as arborio, carnaroli or vialonne nano
¼ cup white wine
1 oz. (30g) natural baked ham, cut into strips
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 Tbs fresh
2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley

Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan.
Peel and core apple. Cut one half into medium dice and finely chopp the other half
In a large skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter, add diced apples and sauté over high heat until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl or plate and reserve.
To the same skillet add remaining butter and oil over medium heat. Add shallots, the chopped apple and cook for 1 minute, careful not to brown it too much. Add the rice and stir constantly to coat with the butter for 1 or 2 minutes. Add wine and let it reduce. Add thyme and ham.
Start adding hot broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring once in a while until the broth is reduced and almost dissapears. Continue adding ½ cup broth until the rice is plump but firm to the bite. It will take from 15 to 20 minutes. Don´t let the rice become too soft.
Remove from heat and add parmesan and parsley. You can add an extra teaspoon of butter or oil at this point. Mix well and serve immediately, adding reserved apples at the end.
Serves 2.


  1. Paula~ This looks absolutely amazing... I have never thought to put Apples, Ham and Risotto together but what a combination! Now on my must try list!

  2. Yum - this combination sounds really lovely and tasty. Apples and ham go nicely together!

  3. Wonderful flavors in this dish. And oh how I love risotto. It is so creamy and comforting.

  4. Mmmm...this looks brilliant! I love the apple and ham combo.

  5. I would never have thought of putting apples in a risotto - what a wonderful combination!
    Mary x

  6. I love risotto and it is on our menu at least once every six weeks. Adding ham and apples sounds like an amazing combo ~ Bea

  7. How interesting is to use apples for risotto. Next time instead of peas I should try apple :)

  8. It's been eons since I've made risotto...this is just the nudge I needed to add it to my menu. I love the idea of apples and ham....mmmmmm....

  9. I have never had risotto but it always looks and sounds wonderful. I typically steer clear of it because it's so heavy. Excited to try this lighter version.

  10. What a delicious sweet and savory risotto!

  11. Looks delicious! I love the combination of sweet and savory. The Italians really do have a way of making simply foods absolutely divine, don't they? ;-)

  12. This looks amazing! I love the addition of the apples and ham!


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