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Black risotto

Every region and village in Italy has their own carefully guarded risotto recipe. Debbie Travis was inspired by the Chianti region to make this black risotto dish. It's intense and fragrant and may be eaten hot or cold. 



  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 pinches of salt
  • 2 cups black rice (such as riso integrale nero or riso nerone integrale)

Yellow Caramel

  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Two pinches of salt

Cheese Ganache

  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated aged pecorino or Grana Padano cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream

Sautéed Onions

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • Splash of Tuscan dessert wine (Vin Santo), ice wine or sherry (or red wine if you prefer less sweetness)

To Serve

  • Fennel fronds
  • Chopped fresh chives
  • Very thinly sliced sweet chili peppers (such as friggitelli or cubanelle)


  1. Add five cups of cold water, the sliced onions and the salt to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. 
  2. Lower the heat and simmer for one hour. Using a large slotted spoon, remove and discard the onions.
  3. Bring the clear broth in the pot to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until tender. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer.

To Make the Yellow Caramel 

  1. Set a medium pot of water over high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and add the yellow peppers and cook for five minutes. Drain and let cool, then remove stems and seeds.
  3. In a small pot, combine the sugar and one cup of water. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, creating a simple syrup.
  4. Slice the cooled peppers into half an inch (one cm) thick strips. Reserve half of the strips for garnish. Add the remaining strips to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, along with the simple syrup, olive oil and salt. Process into a smooth, thick liquid. Set aside.

For the Ganache

  1. In a glass or metal heatproof bowl, combine the pecorino and cream.
  2. Fill a small pot half full with water and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Place the heatproof bowl on top of the pot, making sure the bottom does not touch the boiling water, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes. Once cool, whisk for a couple of minutes, until thick.

For the Onions

  1. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. 
  2. Add a splash of wine, increase the heat to medium-high and sauté for about one minute.

To Serve

  1. Whether you’re serving the risotto in individual portions or family-style on a big platter, start by arranging the sautéed onions as the base of your dish. 
  2. Next, add the black rice on top and evenly pour the yellow caramel around the rice. 
  3. Add the ganache in a dollop on top and garnish all over with fennel fronds, chives, chili peppers and the reserved yellow pepper strips. 
  4. Serve and enjoy!

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