Can a streamlined risotto hold its own against a constantly stirred, two-pot, cheese-dependent classic? You be the judge.

This pantry-friendly recipe begins with a few carrots, cooked till tender and then treated to a quick caramelization. Water and a touch of sugar make this magic happen and elevate the vegetable’s natural sweetness. The carrots are then pureed, which can be done in a blender or a food processor, or you could just squish the heck out of them with a potato masher.

The broth for a traditional risotto is warmed in a separate pot; we found that a microwave and glass liquid measuring cup helped to achieve the same results  hot broth that plumps the grains of arborio rice, coaxing out their creaminess.

Here’s the no-stir secret: You will cook this in a wide saute pan or nonstick skillet, so the grains have room to absorb the liquid as it’s delivered in increments. They’ll become just as creamy as if you had stir, stir, stirred them. You will want to give the pan a swish around with a flexible spatula a few times, just to make sure all the rice is getting its fair share of hydration.

Once the broth’s all in, add the caramelized carrot puree; off the heat, in goes just a little sour cream. Sure looks like a spiffy risotto now  and tastes like it, too.

As long as we’re sharing secrets, here’s a serving tip: Warm the bowls so your risotto portions remain at a proper temperature as you eat. Place the short stack of two atop your active/heated stove top, or fill the bowls with very hot/boiling water and let them sit while you are cooking; drain just before serving.


3cupsvegetable broth, preferably no-salt-added

12medium yellow onion

3young/thin carrots

2teaspoonsunsalted butter

2teaspoonsextra-virgin olive oil



12teaspoonkosher salt

14teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper

34cuparborio rice (uncooked)

2tablespoonssour cream

Leaves from 2 stems parsley

2handfulsbaby arugula, for serving


Step 1

Heat the broth in a large liquid (glass) measuring cup in the microwave, until almost boiling. Cover to keep warm.

Step 2

Meanwhile, cut the onion into small dice. Trim and scrub or peel the carrots.

Step 3

Heat half the butter and oil in a nonstick saute pan or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the carrots, half the water and all the sugar; cover and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and cook for a few minutes more  just until the water evaporates and the carrots begin to brown. That small amount of sugar will produce some caramelization (as you can see on the bottom of the pot).

Step 4

Transfer the carrots to a food processor or blender, or use a potato masher; add the remaining 1/4 cup of water and puree. If needed, add up to 1/2 cup of the heated broth to make the mixture smooth. (You’ll add this pureed carrot mixture to the rice in a while.)

Step 5

Heat the remaining butter and oil in the same pot you used to cook the carrots, over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper; cook for a minute or two, then add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for 3 minutes, then add 1 cup of the heated broth; cook just until it has evaporated  you will see holes appear in the surface of the rice, as shown here  then begin adding the remaining broth in 1/2-cup increments, stirring only a few times, until the liquid at the edges of the mixture is absorbed. In 20 to 25 minutes, the broth will create a thickened, almost creamy-textured risotto.

Step 6

Stir in the carrot puree. Remove from the heat, then stir in the sour cream until well incorporated.

Step 7

Mince the parsley and briefly stir that in.

Step 8

Divide between wide, shallow bowls. Top each portion with arugula and serve.

Based on a recipe from GeniusKitchen.com.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Calories: 420; Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 390 mg; Carbohydrates: 73 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 13 g; Protein: 7 g.