Strawberry Risotto Straight From the Eighties

Strawberry Risotto straight from the Eighties by DinnerInVenice

All of us have dishes we have always loved. And then there are flavors that we learn how to love, later in life. Finally, those that we appreciate because they remind us of when we were young, and/or in love.

As an Italian teenager in the Eighties, trying to fit in (shoulder pads and all), I had a hard time getting used to the new food trends that we were importing from the US, such as burgers and club sandwiches. I would have traded any Panini for a bowl of my nonna’s ribollita soup! As to the other culinary movement that was going on – namely, the spread of Nouvelle Cuisine from France to Northern Italy – I was too young and poor to experience it!

I did hear about it, of course. I was aware of its most cultured and creative representative, Gualtiero Marchesi, and of all the copycats who tried to get on board by simply sticking kiwi, vodka and arugola into everything. But all my student budget allowed me to eat out was lots of arugola pizza!

The surprises of the new cuisine were mostly reserved to the Yuppies, the young and flashy finance or law professionals who loved to impress their peers with gold Rolexes, fast cars, and dinners in exclusive restaurants with outrageous prices. The others (who couldn’t afford such extravagances) made fun of them, laughing at the idea of such adventurous and un-Italian flavor combinations.

That’s how my friends and I, having to make do with pizza or the occasional panini, totally missed on the strawberry risotto craze. At home, our moms were too traditional to venture beyond mushroom or saffron!

Finally last month, to celebrate my 44th birthday and upcoming middle age, I decided to experiment with a few recipes from that era. If my teenage years have officially made it into history books, I should at least give them the respect they deserve!

I must confess that this was not my first choice. At first I really wanted to try my hand at the symbol of Italian Nouvelle Cuisine, Gualtiero Marchesi’s signature Risotto with Saffron and gold leaves. However, I wasn’t sure how my husband might react if he saw me pop my wedding band into the microwave, and on second thought I went for this more sensible option.

Some of you might worry that strawberries could make this risotto too sweet; on the contrary, the end result is slightly tart and very fresh, perfect for summer and incredibly fragrant – not to mention the pretty color!

Strawberry Risotto


Strawberry Risotto Straight From the Eighties

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

serves 4


  • 1 and 2/3 cups Italian rice, preferably Vialone Nano type
  • 1 to 2 quarts hot vegetable broth (prepared without tomato)
  • about ½ stick butter
  • ½ onion, very finely chopped
  • ½ cup prosecco, champagne or dry white wine
  • 8 medium strawberries (fewer if large)
  • salt to taste
  • pink or white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, if liked


(to prepare a vegetable broth, simmer a carrot, an onion and a stick of celery in salted water for about 30 minutes and season with salt); or you can use packaged vegetable broth, but make sure it’s made without tomatoes and doesn’t have too many added spices).

Cut the strawberries into small pieces, setting 3 or 4 whole ones aside for later.

Melt 2 tbsps butter in a heavy pot over medium heat, stir in the finely chopped onion and cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes (don’t allow it to brown). Add the rice, and cook for 2 minutes stirring. ?Pour in the wine and allow it to evaporate.

Start adding hot broth 1 or 2 ladlefuls at a time. Allow for the broth to be absorbed before adding more. ??After about 10-12 minutes, stir in the chopped strawberries, and keep adding more broth and stirring until done (total cooking time is usually around 18-22 minutes). Adjust the salt and check for doneness. The rice should be cooked but firm (“al dente”), and the sauce not too dense. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining butter and the grated cheese, and allow to rest covered for 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topping with the remaining fresh strawberries.

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  1. Ha! This brings back memories for me too. Doing a refresher Italian course in Florence in 1983, I went to a class farewell dinner at a nouvelle cuisine restaurant and had the strawberry risotto. I quite enjoyed it but have never had it since. I don’t think it took off here in Australia. Maybe I should try making it.

  2. I just want to keep staring at the photos of the strawberries and the rice dropping in to the pot. This dish sounds delightful! Thank you for sharing some food memories of your youth. I want to try this!

  3. Hahaha Brought to mind the Silver Palate cookbook. One of the recipes went viral (can’t remember which) and the authors later confessed the recipe was kind of a mocking joke. I think it had blueberry mayo in it. I would never think to use strawberries in risotto, but you have me thinking …

    • that was so funny. However, the strawberry risotto was not one of the joke recipes. It’s even in Gualtiero Marchesi’s repertoire, and it’s delicate and delicious!

  4. Oh my! My Mamma use to make it on special occasions when I was a little girl…oh so 80s…
    Looks just perfect!

  5. A few years ago, I bought a package of risotto with freeze dried strawberries because I thought it looked interesting…I had no idea it was an ’80s throw back!

  6. Love this! Cute story!

  7. Love the title of this recipe! Strawberries are my favorites fruit and really, one of my favorite foods. This is such a fun idea!

  8. Oh how creative! I’ve never heard of strawberry risotto before… and with prosecco as one of the ingredients? I’m a girl in love 😉

  9. I was a little young for the start of the nouvelle cuisine craze, but I remember studying about it in cooking school in the mid to late 90’s. Everyone seemed to be combining everything with everything else! Out of the crazy ideas that existed back then, this seems among the more plausible. Also, cannot get over the pic of the rice falling into the pot!

  10. Never even heard of or thought of Strawberry Risotto

  11. I love the story behind this risotto. What an interesting recipe I would love to give it a try

  12. I never would have thought of this, sounds interesting.

  13. I have never heard of strawberry risotto before, but I have to admit I am very intrigued. Stunning pictures as always.

  14. This sounds so delicious and gorgeous.

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