I don’t typically think of risotto as a summertime dish, but this one will pass. If you’re not sold on having fruit in your risotto, give it a try! The peaches go well with the richness of the risotto, and it’s a great way to use up leftover peaches. I kept it simple here and just added a bit of parmesan and basil, but feel free to experiment with different cheeses like gorgonzola, or another soft, pungent cheese.
Peach and Pancetta Risotto, for 4
6 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of olive oil
¼ lb slice of pancetta, chopped
1 cup diced red onion
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2 or 3 peaches (about ¾ lb), cored and cubed
a bunch of basil, chiffonade
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer over low heat and have it available while making the risotto.
Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. You can use a pot or dutch oven but for small quantities I think a deep pan works better. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is lightly browned and crispy. Add the onions, and stir for a few more minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Next add the rice, and stir to coat the rice in the oil. Toast the rice in the pan for a few minutes.
Next add the wine to the rice. You will know the rice is ready for the wine when the edges become translucent. Do not rush this step as it is very important for developing flavor (or so they say). After adding the wine, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to stir, and when the wine is evaporated, begin adding the vegetable stock in ½ cup increments. Make sure to keep stirring, and that your liquid is always at a low simmer. When the liquid has almost evaporated, add the next ½ cup of stock. If you run out of stock, you can continue with water. This part takes about 20 minutes, but it really depends on the size of the pan and the heat level. Season with salt as you go.
About halfway through, when the rice begins to fatten up but is still al-dente, add your peaches. The riper the peaches are, the later you can add them, but I like to let them cook with the rice for a little bit. When the rice is fully cooked (and just a little bit al-dente), it is ready to serve immediately. Add one more ½ cupful of liquid to keep the rice from drying out. Toss in your basil and parmesan, season with salt and pepper. Risotto should never get too dry, and it dries out very quickly, so I like to pour a little bit of stock over the bowls after dishing out the risotto.