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Shrimp Risotto and a Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway!

Whole Foods is celebrating their Parmigiano Reggiano cheese again this year and they want to give a lucky reader a $50 gift card to use in their stores!  All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post and you will be entered for the giveaway.  To celebrate this cheese, I'm posting a recipe that I actually made for Valentine's Day dinner this year - a cheesy saffron risotto with poached shrimp on top.  It's out of this world. I made it as a first course for the dinner. 


Valentine's Day first course


If you've never made risotto before, give it a try now. There's nothing hard at all about making risotto. It takes about 25 minutes and you don't have to stir constantly, just regularly.  The idea is to add hot broth to the rice a litttle at a time, until the rice is just tender but still has a little bite to it. You can use whatever broth you like and flavor the risotto in so many ways. It's really a versatile dish to play around with.  In this version, I've used a pinch of saffron, a little dry white wine, some onion and garlic, fresh thyme and, of course, plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

look for the dot pattern on the rind to show that it's real Parmigiano Reggiano


If you have a Whole Foods store, it's worth checking out their Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  This is the real deal, from Italy, and if you've never eaten it, you will be surprised.  It's much different than the regular Parmesan cheeses in the grocery store.  Real Parmigiano can be spotted by the telltale dot patterns on the rind - if the cheese doesn't have this, it's not real Parmigiano from Italy, made under the strict requirements for that label.   You can also save the rinds after you've finished the cheese and use these rinds in risottos and soups for more cheesy flavor.

For the shrimp, you need to peel and devein them to get that pretty butterflied look after they are cooked. I like to peel the shrimp in two easy steps. I first pinch the shell just in front of the tail - this usually separates the back section of shell from the front section. Remove that back section of shell by just pulling right off. Then the front section is easily lifted off. You should be able to peel a shrimp in just these two moves.  Then take a sharp little paring knife and cut right down the back of the shrimp to reveal the intestinal tract - it may be visible and it may not. It is usually a dark line running inside that cut - just remove it.  Now the shrimp is butterflied and will curl up into a nice shape when it is poached.

pinch and pull the shell (above)

you should be able to peel the shrimp in two simple moves 
and then use a sharp knife to devein and butterfly them


Never boil shrimp - this will make it tough!  The ideal way to cook shrimp is to simply lower it into hot water and let them poach gently for a few minutes.  That's all you need for a tender shrimp. 

Now, generally cheese is not served in Italy in seafood dishes but this is because you don't want to overwhelm a delicate fish with a strong cheese. So before I get e-mails pointing out this pairing, let me just say that this rule has been taken way overboard by people.  So, mi dispiace, but there's nothing wrong in adding cheese to certain seafood dishes.  This dish is mainly risotto with the poached shrimp just on top.  And it's delicious

As for which pot to cook a risotto in, I prefer a curved pot with sloping sides, like this 3-quart Saucier Pan from Calphalon. I like the fact that there are no bottom edges in which the risotto can get trapped. When you stir, it's easier with a pan with sloping sides.  I have this beautiful Copper pot made by Mauviel for Williams Sonoma that I got years ago - it's not available anymore but if you're really dying to have one, it's available on that e-Bay link. It's my favorite pot for making risotto. 

Don't forget to leave your comment to have a chance to win a $50 Whole Foods gift card!  Deadline is Tuesday, March 24th at midnight.


Shrimp Risotto

for a printable recipe, click here

serves 4

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 cup Arborio rice
⅓ cup dry white wine
3½ cups hot chicken, vegetable or seafood stock (approximately)
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of saffron
8 jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied (see notes within the post on how to do this)
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme 

In a medium saucepan (a sloped Chef's pan if you have one) gently cook the onion in the olive oil over low heat for about 5 minutes, til onion is a little soft.  Add the grated garlic and cook for a minute more. Increase heat to medium and add the rice. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring a couple of times.  Add the wine and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring. Add about 1 cup of the broth, the lemon zest and saffron and stir. Cook over medium/low heat so that the rice is just at a low simmer.  When the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add about ½ cup of broth more. You know it's time to add more broth when you run a spoon through the risotto and the liquid doesn't pour back in on the bottom of the pan. Keep adding broth a little at a time and stir occasionally until the rice is just tender, about 25 minutes. You may or may not use all the broth. Do not overcook.  

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Turn off heat and wait a couple of minutes.  Add the shrimp and poach in this hot water for about two minutes (depending on the size of shrimp) until shrimp turns pink and is just done.  It doesn't take long.  Drain.

Add the cheese and about ¾ of the thyme to the risotto and blend.  Taste and if it needs a little salt, add it now.  Divide risotto among four plates. Top with two poached shrimp each and sprinkle the rest of the fresh thyme on top.  You can take a vegetable peeler and peel strips of extra Pargmigiano if you want for garnish.  

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Reader Comments (244)

Risotto is my favorite pasta dish! Very easy to make too.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Looks delicious! And I love that teal plate.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Everything you make looks delicious but this one is a must.make.immediately. type of dish! I can almost taste it now.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

This looks delicious! I LOVE Whole Foods and would LOVE to win!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Jane Jennings

I appreciate your blog. As with this sumptuous recipe and directions, all your recipes are appealing and your directions - the most appreciated aspect - are wonderful to follow. Your details are incredible. Also, my family loves Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, especially our daughter. We tease her: "Have some pasta with your cheese!"

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle DeFiore

The pictures included in this recipe adds to the professionalism of Whole Foods and The Italian Dish. I will definitely make this dish this weekend.
Thank you Whole Foods Chefs!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRicard

I love making risotto with barley. A lovely whole grain that looks so much like Arborio.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandy W. delicious!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSue Vogel

No matter what type of risotto is being made, e.g., shrimp, asparagus, etc., a fine parmigiano is essential. It is the core ingredient of the dish, and Whole Foods variety is excellent!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRita

This recipe looks so yummy and perfect for an occasion to make special!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteramy mayer

We love risotto so much that we have it as our dinner. I will be making this recipe for dinner this coming weekend. Easy, quick and super delicious... along with a green salad... yum! Hurry up weekend. :)
Being able to purchase all that is needed for this recipe at Whole foods makes this dish even better...

Thank you for sharing

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPnkness

I love everything about this! Except...I don't see nutritional info, did I miss it?

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAsh Hills

I just bought shrimp for dinner this evening so your recipe came at the perfect time!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJM

This sounds incredible - I was introduced to Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy and it's one of my favorite cheese.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Yummmm. I just got back from Florence where I had a great seafood risotto dish!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

This looks delicious! I think I'll make it tonight because I have fresh Thyme! Thanks for posting this recipe!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

I make risotto all the time but will try this with shrimp.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

I love Whole Foods. Sadly there are none near where I live. I shop there occasionally when I'm at work, because there are two within 15 minutes walking distance. But I can't buy much since I have a long train ride home and have to carry everything with me. I wish they'd open a store in my area. Thanks for the great recipe. I can't wait to try it.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSavannagal

Looks wonderful! Love this site and love WholeFoods!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLynda

Love risotto, and I agree that it is not hard to make. It's perfect for a dinner in the middle of the week. Yours looks beautiful!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

will do

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermaryboo

Very tasty, love it.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered

You just reminded me of my own favorite risotto recipe. Now I'm going to make it tonight and maybe add shrimp!

Thank you!

Looks fantastic. Can't wait to give it a try.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJody

Thank you for the great giveaway and the perfect looking risotto recipe! I have made it at home before but it's been a while. I need to try this!

Che buono! I totally agree with you concerning the dilemma between cheese and fish combination:they go very well together.
Will do it tomorrow as I have some friends over for dinner .
Love Love Love Italian Dish !!
Thank you Whole Foods !

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFilomena

I need to make risotto more often. This looks fabulous!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDana

This looks so delicious! I need to make this for my family!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJaclyn Reynolds

I love your site....and most of the time your recipes are spot on!! but this looks more like shrimp with rice vs risotto! The rice is much too dry! there should be more of what the Italians call "wave" to the risotto ....meaning it moves on the plate as a result of liquid....this photo presents a dry appearance. Maybe it is just the photo! anyway...just a comment!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermargo

I have been having great success with making risotto in the pressure cooker! I love your tutorial. And the idea of shrimp on top. Whole Foods is near me! Oh, for Parmigiano Regianno cheese!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Genuine Parmigiano Reggiano is the one cheese I cannot do without. It is always in my fridge. I use it both for cooking and for snacking, and I freeze the rinds for flavoring soups.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWendyhg

Yum! Risotto is a fave...I also like to save my Parmesan rinds to add to soup as it is cooking. Adds an amazing depth of flavor. :)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoy R-B

Risotto is so delectable and versatile. I make risotto with veggies and kale. Love it.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteranne

Recipe printed...this will be served with our traditional leg of lamb on Easter Sunday.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterceleste

Love simple but delicious meals..this on sounds tops..

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

I really appreciate your tip on how to know when to add more broth to your risotto. I've been making risotto for years and never heard of this. Will definitely try it next time!! Grazie!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Isabella

Looks wonderful. Glad to get the how-to tips as well.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

Grazie! Love your dishes you create and I love Whole Foods. Keep up with your great recipes!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Definitely a must make-most likely this weekend. Love your recipes and have made many of them! Grazie!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Can't wait to make this!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLauraC

As always a wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGaleMarie

I was at Whole Foods over the weekend and purchased a heavenly hunk of the fresh parmigiano reggiano that they had cut that morning. It's a definite must in my fridge at all times. This recipe was delicious with it. :)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

The shrimp dish looks lovely. I have the same Buchanan Lenox china as well!. I plan to make the dish this weekend.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Elling

One of these days I'm going to try risotto again. I might even get brave enough to do the shrimp myself too!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEmma Fitzwilliam

I wish I had you for a neighbor!! I can only imaginge being able to actually see what comes out of your kitchen!! This recipe sounds delicious. Thank you for such a lovely website.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNancy P

This looks great! And I have some very deserving jumbo shrimp in my freezer waiting to be used up!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Looks amazingly yummy. Can't wait to try it!!
Thank you!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarlene

Wish there was a Whole Foods closer. When I get to a store I love to shop there.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

This will be such fun to make! I'm glad I can print out the recipe. Makes the shopping and cooking easy !

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen Bryce

I've made risotto a few times. It's a lovely dish but I think I like risotto cakes the next day even better.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJan

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