Pasta Meets Risotto

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for some time now. It was part of Mark Bittman’s Minimalist series in the New York Times, so I knew it would be reliable. It makes logical sense – why wouldn’t you be able to cook pasta in something other than water? And yet, pasta cooked like risotto just didn’t sound right. Finally, though, this week was the week. There were gorgeous mushrooms as the shuk and this was as good a use as any.

If you’ve made risotto before, then the process for making this dish will be familiar. You saute onions, garlic and mushrooms, then add dry pasta like penne. Some white wine adds initial flavor, followed by ladles of broth until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is cooked. Add the chicken or don’t. Evan, who was entirely doubtful of my experiment, declared that this was more flavorful than risotto (a dish he’s sadly not crazy about to begin with). The dish was a success. Although Mark Bittman had already proven it, I proved to myself that pasta can indeed be prepared like risotto. Try it for yourself and see.

Pasta in the Style of Risotto

Adapted from The Minimalist
Yield: 4 Servings

Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups mushrooms (I used a mix of sliced button and chopped portobello)
1 pound penne
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups broth
2 chicken breasts, cut small (optional)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until softened. Add the pasta and toss until glistening. Pour in the wine, stir and let cook down. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, ladle some broth over. When liquid is just about evaporated, add more. Mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep heat at medium and stir frequently.

When pasta is 5 to 10 minutes away from being done, add chicken (if using) and stir to combine. Continue to cook until chicken is done – it will be white on inside when cut – and pasta is how you like it. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley and Parmesan if using.

2 thoughts on “Pasta Meets Risotto

  1. heather

    I’ve also had risotto-style pasta in the back of my mind for a while. We both (fortunately) love risotto itself (so much so that we’re *making* it at our wedding), and I think this would be a nice twist on our old favorite. I always wondered if it really would work — here I have the proof, and the kick to finally make it!



    • Katherine

      Wow – that is a love of risotto! Sounds amazing. I love risotto too. Have fun making the pasta! I made a bigger portion than Mark Bittman, so feel free to turn to the original to make a smaller serving as well (I can’t seem to cook with less than a pound of pasta). – Katherine

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