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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)

I love risotto! I actually had some for dinner earlier with braised short ribs. Yum!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tz

In my family, you're referred to as "my big sister, Elaine!" I love everything you do, right down to your travels and knitting as well! I live in PA but have family in Michigan! One of these days I'm going to sign up for a class!

You are a gift! Thank you!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Yum, I am adding this is my Sunday Dinner. Parm. reg. Is a staple in our house!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisaTen

This looks delicious as most of your recipes do. Three of my favorite ingredients are in this recipe. Keep up the good work and good luck to everyone.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat in FL

I think I will try this on Friday since it is a meatless day for my family. It looks delicious.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I love shrimp and risotto - this is a perfect combination.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersteve weber

Absolutely making this on Friday! Love your site!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDena

woo! hoo! hoo! A gift card to buy cheese including Parmigiano Reggiano at Whole Foods! Doesn't get any better!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIsa

Awesome. I'd love to try cooking shrimp now!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCalli

Parmesan is my favorite cheese ever!!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBree Crocetti

Not only do I want this dish now, I would love to try to make it myself. I love Parm with my shrimp scampi when I do make it! Would love to win the gift certificate to buy all the yummy stuff to cook this!!!
It's just beautiful!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBobbi Miller

I love whole foods- I always get my cereals and trail mix from there. Thanks!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercorinne

I've always wanted to try to make Risotto. This is the perfect recipe to begin with. Good Luck to me! Thanks for the opportunity!!

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

I am sooooo going to make the shrimp risotto that sounds amazing thanks for sharing this one.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterheather

This looks delicious! I've never made risotto but this makes me want to try!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy S

those are amazing shrimp, this is a dish I know I could serve guests and everyone would enjoy - thanks for sharing

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Essad

Sounds absolutely wonderful!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSabra Zedick

That plate looks so delicious!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Oooh, this risotto looks AMAZING! :D Pinning this recipe for future use (and hoping to win the gc!)

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChanel

This sounds divine. Not only do I love shrimp but I am a HUGE fan of risotto. Thank goodness for your creativity and thank you for sharing you recipe with me!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten Deacon

Looks lovely! Never made a risotto.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim

This looks delicious! I love shrimp!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMical

Look divine!!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Thank you, Whole Foods!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAL

Will have to try making Risotto. I would like to see a photo of the 3 qt. saucier pot w/ sloping sides, so I can see what you're talking about.
There is a Whole Foods close to where I live, and would like to try the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, maybe w/ the gift card!!
Look forward to reading more of your blog and recipes.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Can no longer have shrimp (recently developed an allergy, scallops are out of favor too) but the risotto looks creamy and tasty. I can practically taste the parmigiano just looking at the dish. Keep the good ones coming!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Curtis

Grazie mille! Love risotto, is there a substitute for the saffron?

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

This is a simple and wonderful recipe. Will try Whole Food Pecorino Italian cheese, I usually purchase this from "Venda", Federal Hill in Providence, RI, but am anxious to try what Whole Foods offers. Just love this comfort food and the shrimp are a great bonus.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersally ann martone

From The Italian Dish;

Grace: There is a link to the 3-quart saucier in the post that includes a photo.

March 11, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This looks fantastic!! I have a Whole Foods (actually two) near my home . . . now, I just need that gift card to pick up the shrimp and parmesan!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeNi

Looks great. I'm going to give it a try.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Parmigiano Reggiano from Whole Foods is a staple in my kitchen. I like to nibble on it too - Like a mouse! Love the simplicity of your Risotto recipe.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna A.

I am still trying to muster up the courage to try my hand at making risotto. I bought the rice and your step by step tutorial might just be the key for me.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

This dish looks divine!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHS

With the addition of Shrimp this looks so yummy, I can't wait to prepare it!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan P

With these ingredients what's not to like! Lovely presentation which adds to the enjoyment. Thank you for another excellent recipe.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia

This looks delicious! :-) I've made different kinds of risotto before, but haven't done it in awhile, I should make this!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria W

Everything looks so good - I love a good risotto. But when you got to the cheese my mouth started watering!

Thankfully, I have what I need to do this tonight. :)

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertammigirl

Everything you make is sooo good looking. I'm jealous you get to do this for a living!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisa from Pittsburgh

I have always been intimidated to try making risotto, but you have given me the nudge and encouragement to give it a go.

My family LOVES cheese! So the addition of Whole Foods Parmigiano from Italy is a added bonus!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Shrimp and risotto and parma cheese.... I can taste it now.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKay

I love eating risotto,but have yet to ever try making it. I know it isn't that hard, it just looks daunting

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjessica w

Great blog! I have made many of your recipes and can' t wait to try this one. I always try to get the authentic ingredients. It does make such a difference. Parmigiano Reggiano is sent from the Heavens!

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Your shrimp recipe looks so good! We just got a new Whole Foods and I'm excited to visit.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

This dish looks so delicious. Thank you for hosting the giveaway.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLou Ann

Yum! Your shrimp looks so plump and good! I usually grill it so I think I will try your hot water cooking tip.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWendy R.

Looks fantastic! I've made mushroom risotto with marsala wine and "garden risotto" with asparagus, peas and spinach. Two distinctly different flavors and both beyond delicious. Risotto is so versatile.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla S.

Excellent! Thank you!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRosemarie

Wow this looks delicious.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLauren E.

I LOVE Risotto but have not made it for a while...I think this is going to be what is for dinner tonight...and then I am going to make Risotto Cakes the next day (because the comment above mine says they are great!) I could spend $50 on cheese!! Thanks for the opportunity!!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne Knutson

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