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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)

This looks wonderful! And, fresh Parmesan is sooooo much better than the grated pre packaged. I may try this recipe for the weekend.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDian

There is nothing better than Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersharon

Risotto with shrimp is one of my favorite dishes, easy to make yet impressive to serve. I'll have to try your recipe.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Risotto is wonderful.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Thank you for this yummy looking recipe! It looks delicious! Your photo of the Valentine dinner you made is simply beautiful! I will definitely be making this recipe for my honey very soon!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarcie

Thyme is my favorite spice and i never tried it in risotto!
I will definitely try this recipe.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenternicole

Thank you for this nice tutorial for risotto. I have been nervous to make it, but now I feel brave!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

Wow, I can hardly wait to make this. And the tip about poaching, not boiling, the shrimp is really appreciated!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

I just made mushroom risotto 2 days ago. Now I need to make your shrimp version. Yum!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatty K

Great tip on how to spot genuine Parmigiano Reggiano!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDorothea

I'm always looking for tips for perfect risotto, one of our family favorites. I can't wait to try your "when to add more broth" tip and your shrimp cooking method. So easy. And, I'll be looking for the Real Italian Cheese.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterleslie

This looks so good and I haven't yet tried making risotto! I have tried the rinds of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at Whole Foods, and they are delish I'd love to treat myself to the cheese. Those cheese wheels are amazing to see!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Looking forward to trying out this dish!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

Oh my does that look wonderful. I love the real Parmesan cheese. I won't use the other stuff. I'm allergic to rice so I think I might try this with quinoa! Mmmmmmm.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCindy H

This looks amazing! I can't wait to try it! Everything that I have created from your blog has been incredible and I have no doubt this recipe will be, too!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertammy st t

Great timing on this recipe. Of all the Risotto dishes, shrimp is next on my list.

Thank you...

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I saved rinds forever but never did anything with them - until one day I took all my saved rinds and made a parmesan broth. So delicious!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Cannot wait to try this. Going to swing by Whole Foods today. :D

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandy M

This Risotto is also terrific with blood or navel orange sections and orange zest.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlew

I must try Whole Foods Parmegiano Reggiano. Wonderful tip about the dot patterns on the rind.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterToni

I love risotto! I will try your recipe, it looks wonderful.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Another beautiful recipe to share with family and friends. Grazie Mille.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndree

This looks amazing! I have never tried poaching shrimp before.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Martin

This risotto looks good! I'm just about out of the Parmigiano Reggiano DOP I brought home from Parma, Italy last year...sure could use some more. The Whole Foods here in Oklahoma City usually has a really nice selection of cheeses.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisaF

We love risotto. We just went to Whole foods in Albany NY for the first time. I was impressed.
Thanks for the recipe.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentereileen

I love risotto recipes and have added this one to my Food Porn collection. I'll be making it soon with fresh asparagus and a pear, raspberry with greens salad. Thank you!!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersusan beste

Can't wait to try it!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I had an overwhelming fear of making Risotto for years; after finally jumping in with both feet, ha, ha, I made the first recipe & kept looking at the recipe to see what I had missed. Nothing was amiss it was simply a recipe that required a bit of hands on time & carefully knowing when to add more liquid.

Now, we often have Risotto & our neighborhood loves as much as most people; it is my most requested dish for our neighborhood get-togethers & holidays.
I too love your instructions & will definitely make a few shrimp next time with your recipe. Thank you ever so much for your generosity.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBARBARA

I learned how to make risotto by watching Lidia Bastianich when she was on "Great Chefs" on PBS about 25+ years ago. I love it!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Nelson

Recipe looks delicious. I love shrimp and I love cheese. What could be bad? I also love shopping at Whole Foods.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Hersh

I make my risotto in the pressure cooker. Six minutes and perfect every time. Thanks for a new recipe.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIrenehope

I love seafood risotto ..This looks amazing.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

This recipe looks delicious and I am going to try it.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary H.

Risottos are my go to one pan dinner - elegant yet so very easy.

Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful and delicious recipes.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Mmmmmm my.........Shrimp!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

I love following your blog! Thanks for sharing your passion with us :)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I love your napkin and plate! Just beautiful! Thanks for the tips.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie

Risotto ai funghi has to be my all-time favorite comfort food.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Novajosky

I need to cook more with saffron! This looks great,

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

I can taste and smell this...umm, good, perfect spring dish...

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercynthia

Love the tip on how to know when to add more broth! (I'm always impatient when it comes to adding broth)

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLara

What better way to enjoy this great Parmigiano Reggiano cheese than on this wonderful risotto dish. Great usual.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKay

I like to find food items to satisfy my whole grain free needs.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercraftyone

looks wonderful - cant wait to try it

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjoan carr

This recipe looks absolutely delicious and will try it as soon as I return home to MA. Our friends here in FL have urged us to go to Whole Foods in the Sarasota area. They guaranteed us it would be a pleasuable experience!!!!! We have never been to a Whole Foods. In fact, I have never seen one in New England.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermarie ostrander

Ahhhhhhh risotto - one of the most glorious dishes on earth and this one looks delish!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Another wonderful recipe to experience! Thank you.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I love risotto and this looks like a great recipe. But might have to swap the shrimp for a poached salmon fillet due to a shellfish allergy.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

Oh, I love risotto! This looks fantastic!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Christy

I've never even tried risotto before but you make it sound and look delicious! I think I'm going to try it soon!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterkaren

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