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Carole Kotkin

Watch out pasta, rice is becoming a star on the culinary scene. Rather than just a filler--a white mound on the dinner plate--rice is now rivaling pasta as an appetizer or a main course. For centuries rice has been the staple food for more than half the world's population and consumption of rice in the United States has doubled in the past 10 years.

This recent increase is probably because of its importance in a healthy diet--one low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Cooks with an interest in Italian cooking will love our Sunday night risotto (rih ZOT oh). It might even become an alternative to pasta in your house. It's made with arborio rice from Italy's Po Valley which is available in specialty food stores. Don't be tempted to wash it or to use other short grain rice because it's the starch in arborio rice that absorbs the high proportion of broth and wine used, creates a slightly chewy, nutty-flavored taste, and at the same time produces a creamy consistency.

The most classical versions are made with onion and saffron, but there are as many versions of risotto as there are for pasta. In Bologna one January,I had an exquisite risotto studded with squid, lobster, and shrimp that delivered a satisfying dash of comfort on that blustery day. Our easy to follow recipe is made with beautifully ripe tomatoes and shrimp, but you can add a little of this or a little of that and it will become your personal dish. The preparation of the risotto must be done right before it is served, so make the rest of the meal easy by stopping at the deli to buy ingredients for the antipasto, and serve a made-ahead fresh orange dessert.

Featured Recipes:

> Antipasto

> Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Shrimp

> Oranges in Wine

By Carole Kotkin, co-author of MMMMiami--Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere

You can buy the book from our affiliate, Barnes and Noble, online!

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