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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)

Anything with cheese goes to the top of my "must make" list. This one sounds delish!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle G.

Have already bought a piece of Whole Foods newly cut Parmigiano Reggiano. Delicious.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara H

I always look forward to your emails. Always a treat to see what your cooking up and we even get the recipe!
There is nothing like a good cheese and Reggiano Parmagiano is just one of our many fovorites!
Since its Lent, your Shrimp Risotto will have to be on Friday's menu!
Thank you for another "Italian Dish"!
Grazie dai Imperia

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterImperia

Great instructions,ninformative, enjoy risotto and can't wait to try this.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermarion

Looks like a great recipe to try!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Nault

OH MY!!! This looks absolutely delicious!! I love shrimp!! I've never made or had risotto but this looks super easy to make, I'm definitely going to try this!!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly C

I just subscribed and can't wait to start cooking your recipes. Oh and I love risotto too!!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara C

mmm shrimp. mmm cheese. mmmm whole foods. i have a whole foods an hour north of me and one an hour east of me. just looking for a good reason to do a road trip.

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersuz

A long time Italian cook. I too was taught no cheese with fish. This rule has largely been disregarded over the past several years. I make shrimp risotto like this with Parmigiano Reggiano. Especially love those shavings. My granddaughters love Parmigiano. When visiting native friends in Parma they took me to a production plant to see the cheese being made. Amazing to see the large wheels stacked sky high & cheese makers rolling along on tall ladders tapping & rotating the wheels of cheese. I brought a big chunk home.

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia Di Fiore

this looks excellent. Thank you for sharing.

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle A

so very yummy!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlexia

Parmigiano Reggiano is always in our refrigerator. A favorite in our Italian-American household. My husband eats it as an appetizer. Your risotto is surely something I will try.

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJackie M

Love Risotto, Love Parm, Love Whole Foods, Love this recipe!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia

Maybe this will get my toddler to eat shrimp!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary

After being on a dairy-free diet for two years, I recently reintroduced milk with no problems and cheese is next on the list. Can't wait to have Parmigiano on my (gluten-free) pasta! :)

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Milo

This recipe looks delicious, I have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNeiddy

This risotto looks fantastic. Can't wait to try it with shrimp. MANGIA!!!!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

A wedge of parm reggiano is a necessity in my fridge. Even if I let the nub dry out, I throw it in the freezer and toss it in soup later. I saw two guys splitting the Parm wheels in the middle of a Whole Foods store the other day; it was very entertaining.

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Love the tips provided. Never cooked shrimp myself but absolutely love it but never knew to not boil. (great tip)

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commentershaunie

I will be trying this recipe soon! Thanks for the chance to win!

March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Smith

Looks yummy, and your dinnerware is lovely!

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertina h

I've never made risotto before but after reading your delicious recipe I can't wait to try it. We cook shrimp all the time and this looks a different way for me to prepare it. By the way, I love your beautiful china and the turquoise plate too. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win the Whole Foods giveaway.T

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

the recipe looks delicious! I'll definitely be trying it out soon!

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie Gladden

What is the best way to store Parmigiano Regiano at home?

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia

I love cooking (and your site) but my fiancé and I are just starting out. Do you have a pot suggestion if a saucier pot is not available? Also, should I add a saucier to our registry. We are trying to build a foundation!

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

From The Italian Dish:

Amelia: The best way to store hard cheeses like Parmigiano is not plastic wrap, but wax paper type bags. These are what I use for my cheeses and they're great:

Nathaniel: You can use just a regular medium saucepan for risotto. I just like a pan with sloping sides because it makes it easier to stir the risotto and not have rice getting caught in the bottom edges. I love my saucier pan - I use it all the time even for small batches of soup, marinara sauce, chili, etc. I would definitely register for one!

March 15, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This recipe looks simply elegant and delicious. I look forward to making this as soon as I return from Whole Foods! Thanks!

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShelagh

Looking forward to making this dish! Love risotto and shrimp!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

this looks fabulous!!! can't wait to try it!


March 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpaula

This recipe is wonderful. My husband's two favorite things are risotto and shrimp and this is amazing. Thank you for your great recipes Love the blog!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

What a great idea to make this for Valentine's Day!
I have never made risotto, nor have I ever tried it! I appreciate the opportunity to win the gift card to Whole Foods! I will have to make my first risotto if I win!
Thank you!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDESIREE H

Love Whole Foods! Will have to try the cheese!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth H.

Best cheese ever.

March 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermliss

Was just talking about a similar dish to this which is Spanish, called Harina con Camarones. It is delicious, main difference is that they add some fresh tomato and onion to the rice and don't use the Parmesan Cheese. They use a short grained rice called Bomba that is very similar to Arborio.
Your recipe looks yummy, even have the rice on hand, looking forward to trying it. Would even be better if we won the $50 to buy the Parmesan Cheese!

March 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commentervvl

Love risotto.

March 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlucille

I love risotto! This sounds delicious.

March 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBev

Looks so very yummy! I'll be trying this recipe soon!!!

March 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVally

I made this dish this past Friday and I must say that it was the best risotto ever ! My husband says this has to be our new go to Friday night meal. And I agree !

March 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Kenworthy

I'm anxious to try this recipe! I really enjoy your the photography too : )

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Nault

Risotto is my go-to dish....and even a basic parmigiano risotto (when I don't have anything else on hand!) is out-of-this-world delicious! Love your photos!

April 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Thanks you for this recipe. It's what's for dinner tonight !!!

April 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Kenworthy

I love making risotto for my wife on our date nights, from Whole Foods ingredients! Especially lobster risotto! Would love to have the opportunity to make lobster risotto again with a subsidized lobster price tag!

December 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Crabtree

Love your posts. Risotto...yum!!!

December 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaryFrances

Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I just ordered a lovely ham and some shrimp for Christmas dinner from Whole Foods and there is always a wedge of their Parmesan in the fridge.

December 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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