A Versatile Risotto Recipe Featuring Your Pantry’s Forgotten Grains

Follow this basic risotto recipe that you can pour any leftover grains into. Plus, how to transform leftover risotto into cheesy risotto balls.

Not enough rice to make for your guests or family? Have a mishmash of assorted grains—some rice here, some farro there—hanging out in the back of your pantry? Here’s the answer—a great risotto recipe you make with rice, farro, barley, or whatever grains you have!

(Related: Transform Your Roast Chicken Leftovers With This Easy Recipe)

The Great Risotto

Uses up grains, vegetables, stock, Parmesan rinds 

Serves 4 

Total Time: 20 minutes 

Keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge. Risotto will get dry in the fridge, so when reheating n the stovetop, stir in a splash of water, stock, wine or even a tab of butter.

Can substitute vegetables with uncooked finely chopped hardy greens or spinach, just add at the end of cooking time and cook until wilted through.


  • 4 cups Vegetable, Poultry, or Meat Stock
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1–2 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1–2 tsp dried herbs, e.g., thyme, sage, or parsley stems
  • 1 cup mixed grains, rinsed
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup chopped celery leaves and tops
  • 1 cup cooked vegetables (see substitutions)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

(Recipe: These Newfoundland-Style Fish Cakes Are the Ultimate Comfort Food)


  1. In a medium-size saucepot, bring the stock to a simmer and then set aside on a back burner to keep warm.
  2. In a medium-size saucepot over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce until almost dry, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the herbs, grains, Parmesan rind, if using, and the salt and Let the oil coat the grains. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
  5. Ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock and let simmer and reduce until the bottom of the pot is no longer very wet, stirring occasionally.
  6. Ladle in more stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally so the grains do not stick to the As the liquid at the bottom is absorbed, keep adding more until the grains are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the celery and cooked veggies. Remove the Parmesan rind. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve immediately.

What to do with leftover risotto

Turn risotto into cheesy baked risotto balls. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet. Place the leftover risotto in a bowl, add some grated cheese, and roll into golf-ball-size balls. Dip each ball in beaten egg, roll in Breadcrumbs (page 182), and bake until golden-brown, about 20 minutes.

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Excerpted from Cook More, Waste Less by Christine Tizzard Copyright © 2021 Christine Tizzard. Photography © Reena Newman. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada