Picture it: Chicago, 2017. A group of plucky, determined chefs and culinarians pose a question to themselves: How can we conceive of a dish that represents the flavors and soul of that Italian island right by the toe of the boot? For a while, they're stumped. Then it comes to one, like a flash in a dream: risotto. That creamy rice is as Italian as the tricolor flag and Fellini. Then the others chimed in quickly: Parmesan for nutty cheesy, tomatoes because they're “gustoso,” and shrimp because who doesn't love shrimp? This meal is worthy of the pickiest Sicilian, fictional or no. And we think you non-Sicilians will enjoy it too!
Halve garlic. Place garlic halves on a piece of foil and drizzle with ½ tsp. olive oil. Form a foil pouch around garlic.
Place directly on oven rack, opening side up, and roast until garlic is tender, 12-15 minutes.
While garlic roasts, quarter tomatoes.
Stem and mince parsley.
Pat shrimp dry, and season both sides with a pinch of pepper.
Sear the Shrimp
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil.
Add shrimp to hot pot and sear undisturbed until browned and shrimp reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, 1-2 minutes per side.
Transfer shrimp to a plate.
Reserve pot; no need to wipe clean.
Start the Risotto
Return pot used to sear shrimp to medium heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add Arborio rice to hot pot. Stir constantly until rice is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 cup hot water from small pot to pot with rice. Rice should just be covered by water. Stir constantly until nearly all water is absorbed.
Roast Tomatoes and Finish Risotto
Place tomatoes on prepared baking sheet and toss with half the parsley, ½ tsp. olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer and roast until tender, 6-8 minutes.
While tomatoes roast, add another ½ cup hot water to pot with rice and stir constantly until water is nearly all absorbed. Repeat this process, stirring constantly, 18-20 minutes.
Taste as you cook, checking for tenderness. When rice has no more “bite” or crunch, it's done. There may be water left.
Remove pot from burner and stir in shrimp, butter, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
Finish the Dish
Carefully open garlic packet and mash into a chunky paste. Stir garlic paste into risotto.
Place a small non-stick pan over medium heat and add ½ tsp. olive oil. Add panko to hot pan and stir occasionally until golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
Remove from burner.
Plate dish as pictured on front of card, garnishing with tomatoes, panko, and remaining parsley. Bon appétit!