This is kind of a strange idea, but if I had to choose one dish to make for my fiancé that symbolized our relationship, it would be this.

I ordered risotto on our very first date from this amazing little restaurant in Austin called Vespaio. (P.S. If you are ever looking for a place on South Congress to eat, please go there! It will change your life!!!) He had never tried it before, but thought it looked good.

The next time we ate at Vespaio (marking another milestone in our relationship), he finally ordered risotto for himself and was hooked. In fact, he got up in the middle of the night to eat the leftovers before I could get to them! Later, for Valentine’s Day, I surprised him with homemade risotto when he flew in to see me.

And, just a few months ago, we made risotto together for our friends at our engagement party. I guess you could say we’re a risotto-loving duo at this point.

Really, risotto is probably the one meal we’ve shared at the majority of the happiest times of our life together so far. Every time I make it (or we cook it together) it reminds us of all the good times we’ve had and how many we have to look forward to.

Here’s my “good life” risotto:

I use balsamic chicken and asparagus in mine, but feel free to substitute other ingredients.

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 medium-large Vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the risotto:

Cook the onion in olive oil on medium heat in a deep skillet until translucent. While the onion is cooking, add the chicken stock to a stockpot and bring to a low heat. Add the rice to the onion and toast for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine to the skillet and stir, allow the rice to soak it up a bit. Then begin adding the stock to the rice, 1-2 cups at a time. Make sure to stir regularly to help give the risotto its creamy consistency. When most of the stock is absorbed, add 1-2 more cups, repeating until you’ve used all the stock and the rice is tender. Turn the heat to low and add in salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and cream. Stir vigorously to combine.

For the chicken:

Marinade the chicken breasts in the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a zip-top bag for 2 hours, up to over night. Bake chicken at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

For the asparagus:

Toss asparagus, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper on a baking dish until spears are coated. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until tender but not overcooked.

Plate risotto and top with sliced chicken and asparagus. Voila! Happiness on a plate!

At Taverna the evening of our engagement, probably just finishing up some risotto. : )

At Taverna the evening of our engagement, probably just finishing up some risotto. : )

Early stages of the risotto

Just added some more broth...

In comes the cream and cheese!

Roasted asparagus... yum!