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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)

Looks great! I really love the pictures on this site! Thanks for the step by step directions and photos!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesca Montillo

This recipe is similar to my grandmother shrimp pesto risotto I remember eating it at Sunday dinners with my family growing up. My aunt makes it and its great but not the same as my grandmothers . Thanks for always posting the best recipes...

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShellyo

I have never made this...but looks yummy! Love your blog!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLoralee

I love risotto. It's so easy to adapt to whatever flavors you want and have on hand!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

1) Love your site!
2) Would love a GC to make a trip to Whole Foods--it's only 2 miles from home and so much fun.
3) Love risotto--my family begs for it!

Thanks, Elaine, for so many awesome recipes and photos. et

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

What a wonderful recipe. Risotto is my favorite dish!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

LOVE risotto! LOVE cheese! Win/Win! ;-)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I look forward to all Italian Dish recipes and tips and try almost all of them - usually to rave reviews. I'll be trying this recipe soon including the Whole Foods cheese. Thanks for all the great advice.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

Love this website and there recipes, and this risotto seems so easy to make, it's absolutely on my weekend menu. WholeFoods just got me as a new customer - my new favorite store! Sometime I say that I am just going in to browse to see what new items they may have, and I'm walking out with 3 bags full of items. Thank you to the both of you!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterL.Spinella

Love this dish! Wish we made more of it at home...

Thanks for sharing!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSpartyr

Would love to learn how to make risotto! Thanks...Gina F

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGina F

Awesome goodness!! Love the three combinations.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

I absolutely LOVE risotto! Can't wait to try this recipe.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Yummy! We love this recipe!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

I think I need risotto now.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAbigail

The Whole Foods Parmesan is a staple in my fridge. Thank you for the great detailed instructions for the recipe. This is a perfect spring dish!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I love risotto and free giveaways! Thanks for the shrimp cooking tip.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I love risotto and this dish looks amazing. Thanks for the cooking tips.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterElaineK

Your explanation about when to add more liquid to the risotto is the best that I have ever heard. I make risotto and I stand there (forever!) stirring and wondering if I am doing it wrong - and I was!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMargot C

I love shopping at Whole Foods and I love your blog. When you said that you served this dish as a first course, I wondered what the entree was? Can it be made with smaller shrimp?
I will be at Whole Foods tomorrow to purchase the ingredients.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaryFrances

My mouth is watering right now for some Risotto! Yum!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Crain

Love your blog! I agree that a saucier is the way to go for making risotto's.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary Beth Einerson

Risotto is delicious! And I do love how you can change the flavors to what ingredients you have on hand. MMMM and cheese!! everything is always better with cheese!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJaclyn

Sounds fabulous! I love to shop at whole Foods as well!
An experience in itself!
My entire family is looking forward to this one, I'm adding some beautiful sweet fresh peas!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGina Roblin

Looks fantastic.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPreeti T

Actually headed there today to buy some of that cheese! :)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa P

Love, Love, Love Italian Dish !!!!! Look forward to your fantastic recipes in my weekly e-mails. Love the detailed pictures. Love Whole Foods, shop there every Sunday and travel 35 minutes, as that is the closest one to our home, love Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, (save the rinds to add to my Tuscan Bean Soup) for added flavor, love the entire presentation of your Shrimp Risotto , as well as the beautiful Lenox they are served on....and would love to win the $50.00 Whole Foods Gift Card !!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

I am 100% Italian and I do use parmigiano in any kind of seafood risotto I make. I feel like it would not taste as good without it. Thanks for your wonderful recipes!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlessandra

Love the way you curled the cheese. Making this this weekend using roasted butternut squash and asperagus

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoann Bickerton

A creamy and rich dish is so satisfying in this cold weather! I'll definitely make this dish to lift my spirit! Thanks!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJLin

Mmmmm, lovely recipe! Thanks so much for your tip about running your spoon through the rice to tell when it's to add more broth.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCabet

Yum! Thanks for sharing!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

i enjoy buy the variety of fruit offered at WF, which is what I most often buy from there.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfun

This looks delicious. My mother makes a similar recipe and adds asparagus to it as well.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella

Yummy! Can't wait to try my hand at risotto. Thank you for the tips and pics too,

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Whole Foods had their Parmigiano Reggiano on display over the weekend and everyone was sneaking off little pieces. It was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe and thank you Whole Foods for being a great cheese store!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjv

I just love the fact of how you truly teach your methods besides posting the recipe and your photography is exceptional!

Grazie Mille!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRosetta

I use my Le Creuset dutch oven to make risotto.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy Whelchel

If it is true "you eat with your eyes first " I should be full by now after drooling over the recipe and pictures. Awesome job with my favorite cheese.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterwesipes

Wintering in FL we often travel once a week (1hr away)
to shop at Whole Foods. More if we have guests arriving.

You are very inspiring to so many. Great post. I often make this dish and being Italian have
never used parm on it. Will give it a try. The rice creates a nice balancing act for the cheese.

I might also suggest cutting a hunk of parm and pouring a nice glass of Prosecco when the urge
strikes. Yummm...

Buon Appetito

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

Three of my favorites. Risotto, shrimp and Parmigiano Reggiano!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Thank you for the tips. My kids love shrimp, but I have a hard time cooking them just right.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKelly D

Is there life without Parmigiano Reggiano???

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanice Miles

I love risotto of any (and many) kind. A lovely post, I can smell the aroma from here. Thanks for the beautiful post.


March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChef Debbi

Looks delicious! I've made it before, but without the saffron. Love your blog!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermelanie

i have never made risotto but want to try

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise M

I haven't tried Whole Foods' Parmigiano Reggiano before, but I saw it at the store the other day. I'll have to give it a try! My husband would love this risotto.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah L

Love making risotto and love shopping at Whole Foods!
Your recipes are always so well written Elaine and I really appreciate that!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarilena

I live in the PNW and LOVE seafood. This is a favorite dish in our home. We also have date night at Whole Foods with our children. Best shopping and restaurant options around. <3 <3 <3 Thank you for the blog it is a resource I use often!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulyn

The king of cheese period the end!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBobby

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