White Bean Risotto (Risotto al Fagioli)

White Bean Risotto (Risotto al Fagioli)

White beans add a surprisingly fresh flavor to risotto, and this risotto with beans, herbs and fresh Asiago cheese is so hearty and packed with proteins that it's basically a meal all by itself, and a very refreshing and satisfying one accompanied by a light salad of greens and vinaigrette. I use navy beans in my "risotto al fagioli", but any white bean such as cannellini or great northern will do just as well.

White Bean Risotto (Risotto al Fagioli)White Bean Risotto (Risotto al Fagioli)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on August 28, 2007

Filling, creamy and flavorful risotto with white beans, tomato and herbs

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  • 3/4 cup dried navy beans (2 cups cooked or 1 19 oz can)
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio or other risotto rice
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Rinse the beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. At least 2 hours before starting the risotto, drain and rinse the beans, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature.

  • When ready to start the risotto, heat 3 1/4 cups water to a simmer along with a bay leaf and a pinch of celery seed in a medium saucepan while you cook the other ingredients.

  • Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few seconds, then swirl around the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and pine nuts if using and sauté for about 4 or 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the tomato and garlic and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

  • Add the rice and stir around to coat the grains with oil. Turn down the heat slightly and pour in the vermouth, stirring regularly until the liquid is absorbed.

  • Add a ladleful of the hot seasoned water to the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan, until the liquid is again absorbed. Stir in more liquid as each ladleful is absorbed. Continue this process until the risotto is thick and creamy — about 25 minutes. The rice should be tender, but firm to the bite.

  • Just before serving, stir in the drained beans, most of the Asiago cheese, and the herbs and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. To serve, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and a few torn basil leaves.

Makes 6 servings
White Bean Risotto (Risotto al Fagioli)

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