Grape Risotto is an unusual yet very tasty risotto recipe, perfect for late summer dinners, when juicy and sugary grapes are ready to be picked.
The preparation of grape risotto is simple and follows the classic rules of traditional risotto.
Toast the rice in a pan with a base of oil and onion, deglaze with white wine and cook by gradually adding boiling vegetable broth. When the rice is half cooked, add the halved and seeded grapes.
Finally, remove from the heat and cream the risotto with diced cheese (Pecorino, Taleggio or Gorgonzola) and cold butter. The result is an excellent grape risotto, creamy, stringy and unique, perfect for family lunches or dinners with friends.
You can use white and red grapes together to have a more colorful and beautiful dish. Choose your favorite varieties of grapes, as long as they have intact and firm berries.
It’s very important to add the berries more than halfway through the preparation so that they don’t crumble during cooking.
In grape risotto, the sweetness and crispness of the grapes and the creaminess and strong flavor of the cheese create an extraordinary harmony of flavors and textures.
Learn how to make grape risotto by following our step-by-step recipe and tips.
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Grape Risotto Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Servings: 4
- 350 g (about 12 oz) of Carnaroli rice
- 1 little onion
- 200 g (7 oz) of grapes
- 200 g (7 oz) of Pecorino Toscano DOP (or Gorgonzola, Taleggio or Caciocavallo cheese)
- 100 ml (~1/2 cup) of dry white wine
- 1 liter (~4 cups) of vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Try this Italian EVO oil By Le Ferre
- 30 g (1/4 stick) of unsalted butter
Step 1) – First, prepare the vegetable broth if you don’t already have it on hand. Keep it on a low heat all the time you are making the risotto. You will need to use the broth really hot to cook the rice.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and set it aside.
Step 2) – Then soak the grapes in cold water and wash them thoroughly.
Cut the grapes in half. Keep some of the smaller grapes whole for the final garnish. Using the tip of a knife, gently remove the seeds. Set the grapes aside.
Step 3) – In a fairly large frying pan, sauté the chopped onion in the EVO oil. Cook over a low heat until the onion is golden. Stir with a wooden spoon and make sure it does not burn.
Then add the rice.
Step 4) – Toast over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the rice is translucent.
At this point, add the white wine. Raise the heat a little to evaporate the alcohol.
Step 5) – Then lower the heat and begin to pour in the hot vegetable broth, a little at a time, say a cup and a half just to start.
THE RICE WILL COOK IN THE HOT BROTH. So if you see that it’s drying out but the rice is still uncooked, add more broth. Continue until the rice is cooked. Eventually, the rice has to absorb all the broth. Carnaroli rice usually cooks in 18 minutes, so PAY ATTENTION TO TIMING.
Step 6) – Halfway through cooking (after about 9-10 minutes), add the grapes.
Stir gently with a wooden spoon and continue to add the vegetable broth, a little at a time, until completely absorbed. When cooked, remove the risotto from the heat.
Step 7) – Add the diced pecorino cheese (or the cheese of your choice) and stir thoroughly to melt it.
Step 8) – Finally, add the diced cold butter. Continue stirring for a few moments until the butter is completely melted.
The grape risotto is ready! Garnish with a few whole grapes and serve immediately!
How to Store Grape Risotto
Grape risotto should be eaten immediately after it’s ready. Due to the way it’s prepared and the ingredients used, we do not recommend any kind of storage.
Grape Risotto: Some Tips and Variations
For the best success of grape risotto, follow some of our tips and you will get a great result!
RICE: First, remember to NEVER rinse rice before using it. Many people do this in the belief that they are removing impurities, but in reality they are just removing a lot of starch and therefore the creaminess of the risotto.
WINE: To deglaze the rice, use a dry white wine with high acidity. Prosecco is also very good. DO NOT use sweet wine.
WINE SUBSTITUTES: For a special, more aromatic taste, you can replace the wine with a small glass of grappa, whiskey or any other aromatic and fragrant distillate of your choice.
BUTTER: When preparing the mantecatura, remember to use very cold butter. This will create a thermal shock that will make the dish even softer and creamier. It’s very important to add the cheese and the butter when the heat is off.
PANCETTA: For an extra touch of flavor and color, you can add to the risotto pieces of pancetta or speck that have been previously roasted and crisped in a non-stick pan.
WALNUTS: Another idea to add flavor and crunch is to add walnuts, roughly chopped with your hands, to the risotto with grapes.
Which Grapes are Best for Making Risotto?
To make grape risotto, you can use the grapes you prefer or have on hand. We used white and red grapes together for a more pleasing color effect.
We used a variety of green table grapes called Uva Italia, one of the most popular varieties in Italy, similar to cotton candy grapes. And a black or red grape, such as Red Globe.
There are two important things to keep in mind. The first is that the grapes must be firm and not overripe. If the berries are soft, they will crumble during cooking.
For this reason, perhaps the only grapes that are not recommended are Strawberry or Concord grapes.
The second is to remove the seeds, if there are any.
Some grapes have quite large seeds inside that can be unpleasant in the mouth. You can use either red or green seedless grapes to avoid this problem.
Finally, don’t forget that it’s very important to add the grapes more than halfway through the preparation, so that they don’t fall apart during cooking.
Which Cheeses are Best for Grape Risotto?
As for the choice of cheese, you can use whatever you like, as long as it has certain characteristics.
The cheese for this recipe must have a strong flavor to contrast with the sweetness of the grapes. It must also be a meltable cheese that is not too aged to help the creaminess.
We used a medium-aged Tuscan Pecorino. Gorgonzola, Taleggio or Caciocavallo – not too old – are also good.
Fontina or Toma also work well with fruit dishes like this one. Mountain cheeses have a strong flavor that tends to be bitter and goes well with the sweetness of the grapes.
Do not use mozzarella or caciotta cheeses that are too mild. The dish will be too sweet and without character.