Recipe of the Month: Risotto with Saffron and Beans

Fina Scroppo, award-winning writer, editor and author of “The Healthy Italian,” shares her recipe for this creamy, golden risotto, bold in both colour and flavour.


This traditional rice dish gets its extra-creamy texture from the high-starch Arborio rice, which hails from the town of Arborio in Italy’s Po Valley. In North America, Arborio is easy to find in most grocers, but Carnaroli and Vialone Nano rice varieties are becoming more readily available. I’ve added a protein punch to this risotto’s palette-pleasing silkiness with another star ingredient – cannellini beans.

Risotto with Saffron and Beans

Ingredients (4-5 servings)

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ tsp pure ground Zafferano dell’Aquila PDO (see tip)
  • ¾ cup canned cannellini beans, well drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. each: butter and Italian extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
    2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO
  • 1 tbsp. each: chopped fresh parsley and fresh basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Before starting, check out these 10 tips for an excellent risotto.
  2. In a medium pot, heat broth over medium heat just until hot. Sprinkle in saffron, stir and lower heat. Add 2 tbsp. of hot broth along with cannellini beans to the bowl of a food processor and purée until it forms a paste.
  3. In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat well, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in wine and stir until almost fully absorbed. Reduce heat to low. Over the next 20 to 25 minutes, ladle in hot broth a little at a time, stirring regularly, until well absorbed. Before adding in the final ladle of broth, stir in puréed beans until well incorporated.
  4. Remove risotto from heat, sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO and serve topped with fresh herbs and black pepper.TIP: Just a little bit of Zafferano dell’Aquila PDO goes a long way. 2 packages (each 0.125 g) provides ¼ teaspoon of saffron.
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