Eat Well: Apple Risotto with WWW

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and in coastal southern California there isn’t a whole lot happening to remind us of the season change besides the days getting shorter, school starting, and the temperature going from 75 to a "nippy" 69. (Time to get out those scarves!) But we do have apples…shiny new crop apples. And apple festivals.

And nothing around these parts speaks more about Autumn than a crisp apple from the farmer’s market. My favorite are Honey Crisps and although I am sad to see the summer fruits disappearing, a juicy tart-sweet apple is definitely right up there as one of my favorite fruits. Many years ago I celebrated this season by treating myself to a cooking class—Apple Dishes from an Italian Kitchen—taught by Nadia Frigeri. Nadia made five courses of apple inspired dishes and ever since then, I have been making her Risotto di Mele. I think it’s Rebecca’s favorite dish that I make—her favorite comfort food. (ED: Hi, this is Rebecca and she's right. It totally is.) It’s as close to heaven as food can come. I have tried many other risotto recipes and none of them come close. Because, really now, how can you improve on heaven? Something about the warm soft rice and apples, flavored with lemon zest and nutmeg, gives a lingering memory of summer coupled with a hint of the holiday season yet to come.

Like most risottos, this recipe calls for Parmesan cheese. I buy mine from farms where the animals are humanely raised, but I recently read that substituting nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese gives food a similar flavor. (I haven’t tried this yet, so let me know how it turns out if you do!) Nutritional yeast is low in fat, high in protein and B vitamins, and it's not made with any animal products. Or simply omit the cheese…the risotto will still be delicious (add a little more salt to taste if you do this). The original recipe calls for chicken broth, but I substitute with vegetable broth.

Risotto di Mele (Apple Risotto)

3 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups Italian Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1/3 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups vegetable broth
chopped zest of 1 lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Chop apples into small dices.
2. Melt butter in a medium skillet and cook apples and nutmeg, stirring occasionally, on medium for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Cook apples in butter with grated nutmeg.
3. Heat broth in large pot.
4. Melt olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and sauté until transparent.
Cook green onions until transparent
5. Add rice to the pan, and using a wooden spoon, stir for one minute.
Add rice and stir over medium heat for about one minute
6. Season with salt and pepper and add wine and turn stove to medium high.
7. Stir until completely absorbed.
Add wine and stir until absorbed
8. Add hot broth, ½ cup at a time, and cook, stirring, until broth is absorbed.
Stir until absorbed
9. When about half of the broth has been used, add apples:
Add apples about half way through cooking
10. Keep cooking, adding broth, ½ cup at a time until the rice is tender, about 10 more minutes. You will use up almost all of the broth.
11. Add lemon zest and Parmesan cheese and serve hot.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and lemon zest
Serve with a salad and roasted veggies or quiche for a perfect autumn meal!



MichelleS | 5:52 AM

This recipe looks AWESOME...but help, please? Approx how many people does it serve, am I making risotto for an army, or for a family of four? And approx how long it the total cook time? I have made risotto once or twice before but it helps me to have a total-time estimate so I don't undertake a "weekend" project on a weekday. Thanks in advance!!

Thilie | 5:57 AM

It looks so good, I`m definitely going to make your risotto!! Thank you :)

Thilie | 6:15 AM

humm maybe I`ll add some chopped walnuts :)

Jennifer | 6:26 AM

Sounds wonderful. I must try this out on the family--this looks like something my kiddos would enjoy.

Sonja Streuber, PMP(R), SSBB | 6:55 AM

Ha! Another one of the must-try WWW dishes!

Re: Nutritional yeast--I'm a BIG fan; I use what's called Brewer's Yeast (powder) now instead of salt, especially in bakery items; it falls into the same "taste category" (think umami) as really savory seasonings and is available at my local health food store in a big bag. Love love love it.

Thanks, WWW, for the great recipes; keep 'em coming!

Anonymous | 6:59 AM

2 cups of arborio rice is a lot - I bet it would feed 4 easily if not more with some nice sides. A friend just tipped me to this and I'll be back to read more!

Heather | 8:02 AM

I want to go live with your mom.

Or your nana.

Wendy Woolf | 8:22 AM

This makes a lot. 6-8 portions. But it is yummy warmed up the next day. I always make the full pot even for 2 or 3 and eat enjoy it for a day or two more! Just never freeze it...I tried that when Fable was born and found out that defrosted risotto is inedible!

Amy | 8:30 AM

Wendy, I just bought some arborio rice with plans to make risotto. I must be trying to will some fall weather. I'll try this recipe instead of my old standby.


OMGosh yes, NEVER freeze. It was the saddest thing. My mom made me two GIGANTIC tupperwares full of risotto when Fable was born that she stuck in my freezer along with about ten other gigantic tupperwares full of food so our family had food for a while when Fable was born and the risotto turned into horribleness once defrosted. Twas a heartbreaker.

Anonymous | 9:40 AM

Oh my word! YUM!!!! Thanks for this. I'm going to try it this weekend.

Katy | 9:47 AM

Wow, this looks amazing. Definitely making this next week. Fall is here in England, and I love apples. And risotto.

momcents | 10:11 AM

Looks absolutely scrumptious. I'm gearing up for fall with molasses spice cookies and anticipation of sugar pumpkins in my CSA box. This looks like a tempting fall dish. I'll have to try it.

Katie | 10:27 AM

Holy Cow, WWW, this sounds amazing. I cannot wait to make it. Do you use any particular varietal of wine? Or just whatever you have on hand?

Also, and maybe I'm crazy, but I think this would be even delicious-er with a poached egg on top. But that may just be me, I think everything is better with a poached egg on top!

Wendy Woolf | 10:37 AM

Katie, Hmm....Not sure about the poached egg on top...I love eggs but this is perfect just as it is! Also, any WHITE wine will do.


I would eat risotto every night if I could get someone else to do the stirring.

Circus Daily | 11:54 AM

This looks fantastic, going to make it for sure. Originally from Michigan, we get into the whole apple thing...but now living in Calgary it pretty much jumps into winter, tear.

Elle Vee | 1:34 PM

I have never heard of anything like this. I'm Italian and was raised on just about every risotto imaginable (my favorites growing up were squash, or asparagus, but mom also made potato, pea, mushroom, or Risi Co Latte (risotto with cooked milk). I will be making this tonight as I have local Canadian apples that have already moved to the softer side! Thanks for sharing this new recipe! I'll be passing it on to mom...

jesse k | 2:44 PM

I actually just made this for dinner. I didn't have any wine so I used apple cider my husband just bought and it turned out amazing. This was my first try at risotto and although it took a good while, it was worth it. Thanks for the great recipe(s)!!

Elle Vee | 5:42 PM

That's strange that it doesn't freeze well. I make beet risotto frequently and freeze it in small portions for the baby and it thaws okay. But I do use quite a bit of butter, onion, cheese, etc... maybe something in the apple doesn't freeze well? Just a heads- up to people making other kinds of risotto, that it can freeze okay depending on the type you're making.

Cate | 7:12 PM

I must make this soon -- the temperature needs to dip just a few degrees more. Thanks, WWW and Rebecca!

Brethless | 12:24 AM

When I make Risotto (and I make it often since its my favorite comfort food. I use handfuls of rice to determine how much to put in. One handful is 1 persons portion and then I just always add an extra handful for in case (we never have leftovers since we all love it.) I do use meat, but only small amounts and normally just some chicken breasts. The best ever risotto to is Butternut squash risotto. And the best tip for any risotto is to always use Vegetable stock, I have found it enhances the flavors better than using chicken or beef stock.

My comfort food is a bowl of risotto with a nice glass of wine :D

Aurélie | 2:55 AM

Thank you very much for this recipe, it sounds very yummy, I'll try it soon.
But, being a risotto-virgin, it sure seems as involving a lot of stirring! As MichelleS, I would ask: how long does it take overall to cook this?
And is it juste me or does it sound like it would taste equally good with quinoa? Does it even exist, a quiona-risotto?
Have a nice day!

Anna | 6:07 AM

I love risotto, but would never have thought to include apples. What a wonderful idea! I will definitely make this... soon!

Wendy Woolf | 9:28 AM

Aurelie...Risotto isn't risotto without Arborio has what is necessary to make the signature consistency. I love quinoa, but not for this recipe. Also, it IS a lot of stirring (about 20 minutes), but is well worth it.

But, if you don't want to stir, try making it like regular rice (still using the Arborio) and then add extra cheese to make it creamier. It won't have the exact consistency but still will taste good. (Still add apples half way through). I've also heard that you can bake it in the oven. Do the wine step on the stove and then add the hot stock and put in a preheated 180 degree oven. Let me know if it works!

Melissa | 12:50 PM

I love making risotto, thanks for this fall suggestion!

Amy | 3:05 PM

Can I request that you post some quiche recipes? The only ones I can find always have bacon or ham in them and I prefer vegetarian. Thanks for all the recipes. I'm always looking for something new to make!

Wendy Woolf | 4:34 PM

Absolutely! Will do quiche.

Elle Vee | 5:01 AM

I made this the other night for my parents, husband and baby and EVERYONE loved it! Thanks for sharing! I thought it sounded odd at first, but the smells coming out of the pot while I was putting this thing together erased any doubts. A perfect use for those softer apples that have passed prime.

Allyson | 5:46 AM

I made this for my family on the weekend (including my Italian boyfriend who was raised on his mother's risotto). It was my first attempt at risotto and it turned out fabulous and got rave reviews. After all the stirring the way it comes together at the end is so satisfying. I can't wait to make it again... thanks for an awesome recipe!

J. Murray-Szarvas | 5:56 PM

I have a question, hoping someone can answer.

I made this for our Canadian Thanksgiving and having never made risotto before wasn't sure about the consistency. Mine was a bit sticky, is this normal? I also added the lemon and found that it overpowered the whole dish leaving no room for apple flavours. Did I do something wrong?

AbraCat | 5:03 PM

I've had this recipe magneted to my fridge for a month and a half, and I *finally* made it tonight. It was sooooo good! I used Arkansas Blacks instead of Granny Smiths, and they were very tasty. My kids ate a ton and my husband's bringing the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. No leftovers for me, but I'll definitely be making this again soon.

Cati | 8:09 AM

I know this was posted a long time ago, but I have to say two things:
First, I recently became a vegetarian and I've already tried two of the Eat Well's recipes (quinoa informal gathering salad and mushroom quiche). I love them.
Second, risotto can be made with most types of rice. Not basmati, long grain rice or "arroz salvaje", but regular round grain rice and full rice can do (I know, I've done it). Risotto is a term to applies to the way it's cooked, adding the liquid and stirring until it's absorbed. The only thing to keep in mind is that full rice takes more time to cook and you'll need some extra vegetable broth. Yum!