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Risotto with Goji Berry, Taleggio, Candied Orange Zest


Over the weekend I organized a dinner to taste this new and easy risotto recipe I developed for Riserva San Massimo farm.

Conversing with friends about food and its connection, I argued that the tale of tales tells about food. What do you think?

The beauty of the world, man’s labour, nature’s gifts and its inspirations. The seasons and the elements. Earth, air, water, fire. The tale of tales speaks about how profound the connections between food and human cultures are.


Are you connected?

It’s not a wi-fi matter. It is food that produces connections. Where connections mean also human relationships. Think about table conviviality and shared bread. Through food we state likes and dislikes and we celebrate bonds. The history of food is a sequence of connected tales. And those, together, are the Earth’s weave.

The rice

Think of rice and all that a tiny grain of rice contains.

We have been growing rice for of years. But its origins are much older than that. From the Himalayan slopes, where rice grew wild, it reached Asia, the Mediterranean area, Europe and then the others continents. Each human culture has cultivated and cooked rice in different ways.

In Italy from the Alps to Sicily, rice reveals my country.

Risotto, rice cake, sartù, arancino. Each recipe evokes our treasured food traditions. You tell me if this is not the tale of tales.

My recipe

Taste, aroma and texture: all these factors contribute to make this a rice particularly suited for risotto. It’s no coincidence that the most famous chefs use it.

I developed a recipe that combines this amazing Carnaroli rice, grown in a natural reserve, and goji berries, originating from Tibet. I mixed risotto with Taleggio PDO and fresh, and filtered, Navel orange juice from Sicily. I find the contrast between the Goji berry sweetness and the slightly bitter orange zest terrific. As a last touch, I added some toasted hazelnuts. I hope you’ll love it.


Risotto with Goji Berry, Taleggio, Candied Orange Zest

Food tips

Always choose organic oranges to use juice and peel.

Italian people generally add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pasta and, often, to risotto as well. It is not needed in this case.

Orange zest is the top layer of orange peel. For me the best way to obtain it is using a vegetable peeler. Peel the orange as you would a potato. Do not remove the pith inside the orange, it’s bitter.

Cut large pieces of rind into thin strips.

In case you didn’t know, taleggio is a rich, semi-soft cheese. It’s known for its unexpectedly mild, sweet and lightly tangy flavor. It melts really well, and it’s perfect to melt.

Where can you buy this rice? At Eataly, for example.

Risotto with Goji Berry, Taleggio, Candied Orange Zest Recipe

serves 4

320 g Carnaroli rice
20 g of goji berries
160 g of Taleggio DPO cheese
fresh, filtered juice of 1 organic Navel orange
½ orange peel
20 g of hazelnuts
1/2 leek
100 g of cane sugar
100 g of water
butter, extra virgin olive oil, salt
75 ml vegetable broth


Make a quick vegetable broth (1 l water, 1 white onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery with some leaf). Set aside.

While the broth pot is on the heat, toast coarsely broken hazelnuts in a saucepan for a few minutes. Set aside. Clean goji berries under cold water and gently dab them with kitchen paper. Also set this ingredient aside.

Cook orange peel strips in water for 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

Prepare syrup for zests by melting sugar into the boiling water. Add the orange’s skin strikes and cook for about 5-6 minutes on medium heat. Before removing the small pot from the heat. Drain and set aside.

Cut the white part of a leek finely and sauté it in a pan with a bit of butter, olive oil and salt on low heat.

Add rice, stir and add 3-4 broth ladles. Stir again, add another 1 or 2 broth ladles covering the rice.

Before the rice is al dente, continue cooking adding orange juice until reduced. Stir from time to time until ‘al dente’. If need be, add more broth but not too much.

Add melt cubes of cheese into the risotto, stirring. At last, add some zests and goji berries.

Turn off the heat, season to taste, leave for 3 minutes before serving.

Before to serve, add in hazelnuts and what remains of the zests.

Risotto with Goji Berry, Taleggio, Candied Orange Zest

San Massimo Natural Reserve and The Farm

Carnaroli is one of the most common types of rice used to make risotto. Even though the rice I used for this recipe is all but common. Starting from where it grows. “Surrounded by a pristine nature reserve and far from thoroughfares, three varieties of highest quality rice are cultivated in the agricultural territory of Riserva San Massimo: the authentic Carnaroli (superfino as well as whole grain), the Rosa Marchetti and the Vialone Nano. The rice is cultivated exclusively inside the Riserva”.

The Riserva San Massimo is a nature reserve that extends on an area of more than 800 hectares, constituting a rare environmental niche inside the Lombard park of the Ticino valley.

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