One Prep, Two Meals: Risotto

Make-ahead risotto rice holds a regular slot on my dinner menu. Get risotto recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Risotto may seem like an unlikely candidate for the one prep–two meals formula: it has a reputation as a fancy meal that requires time and special care. But if you keep the right rice on hand and understand the basic technique, it simply becomes another fabulous way to stretch leftovers—and impress your friends at the same time.

These recipes build on the ratios given in Fresh Improv Risotto. So if you’ve already made versions of that recipe, or participated in one of my risotto workshops, familiarity will make your meals come together quite quickly. If you have yet to experiment with risotto, follow the recipes here and then check out the improv post for other risotto ingredient ideas.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipes below, but here are the basics for one prep, two meals.
For both recipes, you need some kitchen staples, onion, and garlic, plus the following ingredients:
5 cups stock
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 cups chopped fresh vegetables
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:
1. Cut up all fresh ingredients, setting aside any veg you want to add to Last-Minute Shrimp Risotto.
2. Start cooking the first meal, adding the aromatics, rice, and warm stock.
3. Split the rice, cooling half for later and adding veg to the day’s meal.
4. Finish the day’s dish and enjoy.

InstagramMake it, share it. Tag your photos: @twiceastastyblog and #twiceastastyblog

Garden Risotto

  • Servings: 2–3
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
4-1/2 cups Vegetable Stock, warmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup fresh vegetables, such as asparagus pieces, broccoli florets, peas, and/or cubed zucchini
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prep all ingredients as noted in the ingredient list; if you’re doing one prep for two meals, you can prep an additional cup of vegetables (see Tips & Tricks).

Start cooking the rice as you would for Fresh Improv Risotto: In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and paprika. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute, until thoroughly coated. Add about 1 cup of warm stock and let the rice simmer uncovered, stirring every couple of minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue the process, adding 1/2–1 cup of stock at a time.

After 12–15 minutes, when the rice is becoming tender but is still firm in the center, remove the pot from the heat. Transfer half of the rice (about 2-1/4 cups) to a wide, flat pan, such as a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Spread it into a thin, even layer so that it can cool quickly, stirring it occasionally as it cools. When completely cooled, transfer the rice to a lidded container and refrigerate, for up to a week, for a second quick meal (see below).

Add more stock and any denser vegetables to the rice remaining in the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, until the rice is almost done. Stir in the quick-cooking vegetables; add the wine, if using, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the wine is absorbed and the vegetables are tender. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan until they melt into the rice, and then fold in the fresh herbs. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat and let rest 1–2 minutes before serving. Serves 2–3.

Tips & Tricks
  • Starting with the right rice and adjusting your cooking technique are key: Instead of covering a pot of short-grain rice and water with a lid, buy medium-grain Arborio rice and cook it in an open pot. Add a little hot liquid at a time, stirring often and letting the rice absorb it before pouring in more.
  • You have many vegetable and herb options for risotto. I add just about anything I have on hand as it comes into season: tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin. I even make risotto from the freezer in winter with summer squash, squash blossoms, and tiny tomatoes.
  • Although you can use an entirely different set of vegetables for your last-minute risotto (see below), you can always chop some of the same vegetables now and store them separately from the rice. When you make the second dish in a couple of days, even more of your prep is done.


Make-ahead risotto rice holds a regular slot on my dinner menu. Get risotto recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

Make-ahead risotto rice holds a regular slot on my dinner menu. Get risotto recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.For a long time, my biggest challenge in cooking risotto was that I’m often only feeding two people, which means we always have extra. The difficulty was in reheating the leftovers: a microwave makes it mushy, an oven dries it out, and reheating on the stove with additional sauce turns it to porridge. I originally used Patricia Wells’s instructions for risotto al salto: toss prepared risotto in a buttered or oiled sauté pan and heat until it “jumps.” It usually worked but occasionally became overly greasy, messy, or both.

Then I stumbled upon J. Kenji López-Alt’s restaurant secret for risotto. He makes a convincing argument for shortcutting the risotto process by initially undercooking the rice and then finishing the dish to order—and when I started to use the technique, it worked. Now, it doesn’t matter whether I’m feeding two people a couple of times during the week, planning a first-night sailboat or front-country meal, or minimizing dinner party prep: make-ahead risotto rice holds a regular slot on my dinner menu.

Ready to give it a try? The one prep, two meal option was outlined earlier. Here are the basics for the recipe below:
Besides your reserved ingredients, you need just 1 main ingredient plus some kitchen staples and herbs.
1. Heat the reserved rice and vegetables.
2. Add the shrimp and finishing ingredients and enjoy.

InstagramMake it, share it. Tag your photos: @twiceastastyblog and #twiceastastyblog

Last-Minute Shrimp Risotto

  • Servings: 2–3
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1/2 batch precooked rice reserved from Garden Risotto (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup stock or water
1 cup reserved or other fresh vegetables, such as torn kale or chopped bell pepper
1/2 pound raw shrimp
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 sprig fresh tarragon, stripped and minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop any vegetables not reserved from Garden Risotto. Add the reserved rice to a large, heavy-bottom skillet, along with the stock or water and vegetables. Bring the risotto to a bubble over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until the rice is almost done. Stir in the shrimp and wine, if using, and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the shrimp is done and the wine is absorbed. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan until they melt into the rice, and then fold in the fresh herbs. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat and let rest 1–2 minutes before serving. Serves 2–3.

Tips & Tricks
  • This dish is delicious with grilled vegetables and shrimp. You could grill them just for this risotto, but it’s even easier to grill a bit extra for a different meal, such as Grilled Fish Skewers, the day before and fold the leftovers into the risotto.
  • If you are grilling for this meal, you can stir the grilled ingredients into the rice or serve it as a simple side dish: add a pinch of saffron, a squeeze of lemon juice and zest, or 2–4 tablespoons of fresh herbs, or just let the Parmesan shine.
  • You can easily swap the two recipes in this post, making shrimp risotto first and veggie risotto the second night. Or change up both recipes, using 1/2–1 pound of main ingredients each night.


Want to play with more variations? Twice as Tasty is teaching these techniques in workshops held in your own kitchen, among friends—and with my personal help. Click here to learn more.

3 thoughts on “One Prep, Two Meals: Risotto

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s