I walked to the dry cleaners yesterday, which was a hot, sunny day in Seattle, a city that people say rarely sees the sun and never gets hot, so I may be breaking some kind of let’s-keep-this-our-little-secret Seattle code by even mentioning these pleasant conditions, but I’m new here, and I haven’t totally learned the code just yet. Anyway, a few stray, puffy clouds floated in the broad, blue sky and as I climbed the steep, narrow stairway that cuts a path out of our little neighborhood and out onto the main drag, I turned around to take it all in.
From those stairs, I can see all the way down the hill into Ballard, and, behind it, slices of the sparkling ship canal and the blue and red hulls of the big boats anchored there. I can see the slope up to Queen Anne on the other side of the water, and way off in the distance, I can see the jagged, still-snow-draped Olympics. The latest-blooming flowers (poppies and peonies and roses, at the moment!) edge the sidewalks, and succulents crawl up mossy rock walls. I can hear the bellow of shipping horns and the whisper of the tall, swaying pines, and power lines criss-cross overhead.
Seattle’s felt a lot like this lately, for me—a mix of still-new wonderment and the mindless, comforting familiar of a place that you know. We had a close friend, the best man at our wedding, visit us last weekend (it if seems like I’m always mentioning guests, it’s because we’re basically operating a B&B, which I love), and it was a treat to have favorite places to bring him and favorite things to do with him. When our first guests were here back in April, our sightseeing mainly involved the grocery store, and, if we were very lucky, the playground down the street.
On Saturday night, after the baby was asleep, Kevin and our friend went out for dinner, and I stayed behind with Avery, and made myself dinner. I had bought some shrimp and didn’t have much of a plan beyond that. I rummaged through the pantry, and settled on risotto.
I make risotto every couple weeks, so I made it as I normally do, but I planned to swirl in some chives and crushed San Marzano tomatoes and to top it with sauteed shrimp. I leaned my hip up against the counter as I mindlessly stirred and stirred the rice, ladling in spoonfuls of broth until the magic trick that is risotto was done. The addition of tomatoes provided a new rosey hue and some tang, and the speckle of snipped chives brought a faint garlic note. The fat, pink shrimp rounded it out into a meal—a risotto unlike any I’ve made before. Here, too, I found well-worn comfort, with enough new thrown in to make me stop and appreciate.
Risotto with Shrimp, Tomatoes & Chives
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup arborio rice
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or, if you’ve got it, shrimp/seafood stock)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup minced chives
a dozen or so medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
red pepper flakes, to taste
In a medium skillet with deep sides, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent (several minutes). Add the rice, season with salt, and cook for a minute or so, stirring to coat the rice with the oil. Add the wine, stirring and cooking until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the broth/stock, stirring and cooking until the broth/stock is absorbed. Continue to add the broth/stock, a half-cup at a time, stirring and cooking until the broth/stock is absorbed with each addition.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in another skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shrimp has just turned pink, flipping once. Set aside.
Once the risotto has absorbed all the broth/stock, stir in the parmesan, chives, and shrimp and serve.