Leek Risotto is a very simple-to-make Italian recipe, light and nutritious. The leeks, browned in butter, are extremely fragrant and give the risotto a very delicate flavor. Leek Risotto is a dish of humble and poor origins. But nowadays people think of it as refined for its delicacy and lightness.
Leek Risotto is an ancient dish of the peasant Italian tradition. It has become a classic dish, especially of Piedmontese cuisine. In fact, Piedmont region produces the best Italian qualities of leek and rice.
They often use leek in place of onion because it has a milder flavor and is more digestible than onion. You can even eat leek raw in pinzimonio, or use it to enrich and flavor salads. You can use cooked leeks in many ways: braised or stewed as a side dish, au gratin or also as a filling for savory pies. Leek goes very well with eggs, simply in omelette or en cocotte. But the queen of recipes with leeks is undoubtedly risotto!
The best risotto is traditionally made with Arborio or Carnaroli rice, two varieties that make the risotto creamier.
So now follow our step by step recipe for a creamy and fragrant Leek Risotto!
Leek Risotto Recipe
- 2 medium leeks
- 1.5 liters of vegetable stock
- 100 ml (3,5 oz) of dry white wine
- 450 g (1 lb) of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 80 g (3 oz) of unsalted butter
- 120 g (4,5 oz) grated Parmigiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of black pepper (optional)
- a pinch of fine salt
How to Make Leek Risotto: Directions
Step 1) – First thing first make a vegetable stock: you’ll need it to cook risotto. You can make it the day before and keep it in the refrigerator. Reheat when necessary. Then clean the leeks. Remove the dark green part of the leek and the last part with the roots. Then remove even the hardest outer leaf, which you can add to the stock for more flavor.
Step 2) – Cut the leeks into rings and rinse them under fresh water to remove any earth residues.
Step 3) – In a large saucepan, pour 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and half a dose of butter. Turn on the heat and when the butter has melted, add the rings of leeks, a pinch of salt and a ladle of vegetable stock. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4) – Add the rice and mix well. Then add the white wine and let the it evaporate.
Step 5) – Finally add hot vegetable stock, very little at a time stirring constantly. Let it cook for about 15 minutes. At the end turn off the heat and add Parmigiano cheese and the remaining butter. Mix well for a creamy leek risotto. If you like, add some freshly ground black pepper. Serve leek risotto immediately hot with a little more grated Parmigiano cheese to taste.
Keep leek risotto in an airtight food container in the refrigerator, for 1-2 days maximum. Freezing is not recommended.
Leek Risotto Variations
There are several ingredients that go very well with leeks. Let’s see together what they are and what delicious recipes we can make with rice and leeks:
Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola Cheese
If you like strong flavors and love cheese, we recommend replacing the butter with 70 g (2.5 oz) of Gorgonzola cheese at the end of cooking. The strong and decisive flavor of Gongorzola goes very well with the sweet and delicate flavor of the leek.
Leek Risotto with Italian Sausage
If you have richer tastes, you can add a touch of flavor and color with a crumbled sausage. Add the sausage to the stewed leek, before adding the rice. Risotto with leeks and sausage is very popular in northern Italy.
Leek Risotto with Crispy Bacon
Finally, when risotto with leeks in ready, serve it in a plate but first sprinkle it with small crispy diced bacon, previously toasted in a very hot pan.
Leek is a popular vegetable in many countries and especially in France, Holland and Wales. In Italy leek grows mainly in the north and in particular in Piedmont region.
The most famous variety of leek in Italy is called “lungo d’inverno”, also known as the “gigante d’inverno”, characterized by very long stems (up to 80 cm/ about 30 inch), perfectly white, tender and tasty. Every year, at the beginning of November, the “Leek Fair” is in Cervere (Cuneo), visited by lovers of good Italian cuisine.
Another very good and well-known variety of Italian leeks is also produced in Piedmont in Carmagnola in the province of Turin. The town of Carmagnola is also very famous for the production of fantastic bell peppers IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). A true Italian gastronomic excellence, with which to make a delicious Peperonata!
The leek called “Long Sweet Leek of Carmagnola” is characterized by a remarkable tenderness and a very sweet flavor and is also very digestible.
For some years they have been organizing the Porro di Carmagnola market. This event is very important for this area both for economy and for gastronomic tourism.