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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lundberg Creamy Parmesan Risotto

Today I thought I'd take a little departure from the breakfast-and-snack fare of late to review... a risotto. This might seem a little strange-- after all, risotto is a rice dish, and as such, should be gluten-free. But sadly, not all the world's food providers share this Utopian vision, leading gluten-free adherents to perusing the GF menu at certain chain steak restaurants and finding that the pilaf is not recommended. NOT THAT I AM BITTER AT ALL. No, not all dishes that should be gluten-free actually turn out to be gluten-free, so I feel it is my duty to point out those wonderful companies that deliver gluten-free-for-reals food. And that brings me to today's review.

Lundberg Farms are a group that seems to specialize in rice products. Aside from their many varieties of risotto, you can find various forms of raw rice, rice cakes, rice chips, rice pasts... the list goes on. Many of these other rice products have the courtesy of being gluten-free! Good job, guys! Many of their dishes are also "eco farmed," which seems to mean that it is farmed using sustainable practices. I can also tell you that much (if not all?) of Lundberg's rice is grown right here in America! So... U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Ahem. Sorry.

So, after all that preamble, let's move on to the dish itself. Cooking the risotto is fairly simple. You can do so on the stovetop or in the microwave; FYI, I always choose the latter. It takes the same amount of time (~20 minutes) either way. I can dig that. The microwave version is fairly simple. Assemble the rice, flavoring mix, water, and a little olive oil in your container of choice. The flavoring powder, like all similar powders, seems to prefer "large clumps" as its habitat of choice. Fortunately, you don't have to go too nuts breaking those things apart. Once you've got everything together, cover the whole thing, nuke it for 10 minutes, remove the cover, stir, and nuke it for another 10 minutes. Ta-da! Delicious risotto! Once it's finished cooking, it looks like so:

Once you let it cool, fluff it up a bit, and plate it, you get this:


The consistency tends towards the sticky side, with the rice itself being soft, but not mushy. And the taste! The words "creamy parmesan" are, in fact, completely apt. The texture combines with the "creamy" side of the taste for a melt-in-your mouth goodness, while the "parmesan" is wonderfully present without being overbearing. Add it all up and it's a wonderful, easy-to-make dish!

That said, let's talk nutrition and portions. The Lundberg box advertises their risotto as being "low-fat." And yes, that description seems accurate- they clock in at 1.5g of fat per serving. 0.5g of that is saturated fat. Not too shabby! You're also looking at 140 calories, 5mg cholesterol... and a somewhat unfortunate 490mg sodium. Again, that's per serving. And what is a serving? Well, in their calculations, a serving is 1/2 of a cup, cooked. To be honest, I think most people will find that to be on the small side. I certainly do, but... that could just be me. It's something to keep in mind, though. However, the amount of risotto you do get from one box makes this perfect for singles or couples. Full families may want to do multiple boxes at a time. Just saying.

In the end, if you're looking for a side to go with your dinner, the Gluten-Free Critic heartily endorses this creamy, delectable, risotto.

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