Risotto is just how Italians cook rice, so don't be intimidated by this fancy sounding dish. Although most people associate rice with Asia and pasta with Italy, rice is a very important part of the Italian diet--especially in the North. When cooking risotto, it's important to use the appropriate type of rice. Use either arborio or carnaroli rice. Arborio can be found in many grocery stores, although where I'm currently living, one must go the "health food store" to find it. What makes this rice special is that the outer starchy layer gets rubbed off during cooking and gives the dish a wonderful, creamy consistency. Notice in this picture how the grains are sort of translucent on the outside with a white kernel in the middle.
Risotto can be made in an endless number of varieties with additions of various vegetables, herbs, cheeses, meats, and seafood, added to the basic recipe. Yes, the recipe does include white wine, which makes it taste divine. For the Utahns out there, that does mean a trip to the state liquor store which can be a little daunting for a first-timer. Just buy something white, in a bottle (nothing from a box please!) that's on sale. Don't worry too much about which kind--sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot blanc, pinot grigio, whatever. Yes, the alcohol does cook entirely out and you are left only with a wonderful, acidic bite that really makes risotto a treat. If you absolutely can't stomach the thought of buying booze, just substitute more broth and know that you will never truly live. For the batch in this pictures, I stirred in cubes of cooked butternut squash (toss it in the microwave with a little water until it's soft, probably around 8 minutes) and frozen peas right at the end before adding the cheese. To me, nothing says springtime like risotto with peas.