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Best Saffron Risotto Recipes

Best Saffron Risotto Recipes

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Top Rated Saffron Risotto Recipes

Throughout the centuries saffron has been a symbol of wealth and elegance. Cleopatra used saffron water to keep her skin soft. Roman Emperor Nero sprinkled the streets with saffron water to honor his return to Rome. Persians considered it a tonic for the heart as it was thought to alleviate melancholy. (However, they believed too much of it could produce a state of euphoria and even death from too much laughter!).A spice consisting of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it was introduced into Spain by the Arabs, and later cultivated in Mediterranean regions and elsewhere in Europe. In France, it was grown by “safraniers” in the sixteenth century. In England, the Essex town of Saffron Walden became the center of saffron cultivation.Rice was introduced into Italy during the Middle Ages by Venetian or Genoese merchants who traded with the east. The earliest documentation of rice cultivation in Italy dates to 1475. Risotto is specific to northern Italy where rice paddies are abundant. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.Adapted from the ArtBites tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Recipe Summary

  • 6 to 8 cups Mrs. Kostyra's Vegetable Stock, or canned low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 24 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, cut into thirds, shells reserved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cups finely chopped shallots
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for shaving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat stock in pan over high heat. Add clams cover. Cook until opened, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to a bowl. Discard unopened clams. Remove clams from shells, and chop clam meat. Add shrimp shells to stock. Cover simmer 15 minutes. Pour stock through fine sieve, discarding solids and sand left in pan. Return stock to stove keep at simmer over medium heat.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saffron cook, stirring, until translucent. Add rice cook, stirring, until rice begins to sound like glass beads, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add wine to rice. Cook, stirring, until wine is absorbed. Using a ladle, add 3/4 cup of hot stock to rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir rice constantly, at medium speed. When rice has absorbed most but not all of the liquid and mixture is just thick enough to leave a clear wake behind the spoon when stirring, add another 3/4 cup stock.

Continue adding stock in this manner, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly translucent but still opaque and slightly crunchy in center. Add shrimp continue stirring and adding stock until rice is still al dente but not crunchy and shrimp is cooked through, about 3 minutes. As rice nears doneness, watch carefully, and add smaller amounts of liquid. The mixture should be thick enough that grains of rice are suspended in liquid about the consistency of heavy cream. It will thicken slightly when removed from heat.

Remove from heat. Stir in clams, butter, Parmesan cheese, if using, and parsley season with salt and pepper. Divide among four bowls, and grate or shave Parmesan over risotto, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain Italian rice, such as arborio
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 pound large peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 3/4 cup fresh peas
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving

In a saucepan, combine broth, 2 cups water, lemon zest, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until translucent and grains begin to make a popping sound, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine and saffron cook until wine is mostly evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Ladle 1 cup broth mixture into skillet. Stir with a wooden spoon at a moderate speed until most of broth is absorbed and bottom of skillet stays visible for a second or two as you mix, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue ladling broth into skillet, about 1/2 cup at a time (or enough to just cover rice). Stir slowly but constantly, allowing rice to absorb most of broth before adding more. Risotto is ready when rice is al dente and broth has thickened to a rich sauce, 20 to 25 minutes. (You may not need to use all of broth.) Add shrimp and peas to skillet with last addition of broth cook until shrimp are opaque, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon juice, and cheese season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with more cheese and pepper to serve. If the risotto becomes stiff before serving, stir in more hot broth, a little at a time, until it's loose and creamy.

Risotto allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto Recipe)

Pasta may be Italy’s most famous first course, but rice is equally key to Italian cuisine – especially in the northern region of Lombardia. During the Renaissance, the swamps near Milano were turned into rice paddies, and rice has played a starring role ever since. One of our favorite Milanese dishes is the iconic Saffron Risotto.

Risotto allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

For the broth:
Piece of boiled beef
1 carrot
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 parsley stalk
2-3 peppercorns
Sea salt, to taste

For the risotto:
1 2/3 cups rice, preferably Carnaroli
Saffron, to taste
½ cup white wine
½ cup Grana Padano, grated
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To prepare the broth, combine all of the ingredients in a pot, and cover with cold water, and bring to a boil for at least two hours, or until the meat is tender. Season the broth with salt, and keep the pot simmering while preparing the risotto.

In a medium saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat, and add the onion, sautéing until it becomes soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.

Add the rice to the pan, and toast it, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant. Add the white wine, and stir until it has evaporated and the rice is translucent with just a small pearl visible in the center of the grain.

Add 1 ladleful of the broth, stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Using a spatula, collect all of the grains from the sides of the pot, and stir into the mixture so that the rice cooks evenly. Continue adding 1 ladleful of the warm stock at a time, stirring constantly to ensure even cooking. Taste the rice before each addition of broth to gauge how close it is to being cooked and to adjust the seasoning with salt.

While the rice is cooking, toast the saffron in a small pan over low heat. Crumble the toasted saffron, and combine with a small amount of the broth.

When the rice is al dente, stir the saffron-infused broth into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the butter and Grana Padano. Stir until the ingredients are completely incorporated.

Serve the risotto into four warm bowls.

Ready to make this saffron risotto recipe at home? Find all the ingredients at your local Eataly or online, and get a taste of Lombardia! We're featuring the best products from the region this month in partnership with Explora Lombardia.

Related Video

Awesome recipe . goes well is wood plank salmon!

Great recipe. Made as written. I did add some peas. First time I made a risotto. Good thing I always have home made chicken stock in freezer!

I love the fact that this is such a simple recipe and yet it could be found on a restaurant menu. The key is to use genuine saffron but honestly not many people know how to identify genuine saffron. This video explains it beautifully Real saffron will make all the difference to a dish like this.

This is a great recipe! The dish is full of flavor. I used an organic Moroccan saffron I purchased from Amazon, which enhanced the flavor of the dish. If you are interested, you can check it out here: Thanks! Keep these great recipes coming!

I've made several risottos, and this is a very basic one. The instructions are very good, follow them exactly (including the bit at the end about turning the heat off and covering the pan). I really wanted some fresh herbs in this, the flavor was lacking something and I think a little bit of something green would help.

No idea why anyone had any trouble making this dish or why it didn't turn out well. It was delicious. Takes a bit of time (over an hour), but what risotto doesn't?

Don't know what went wrong, I followed this recipe exactly as written and it came out horrible. Threw it all away.

I made this a vegetarian dish by sub-ing veggie stock for chicken stock. I also used a leftover riesling for the white wine as that was what we had in the fridge. The rest I followed to a tee. The outcome was. pretty good. Definitely worth a try.

I added sauteed apricots, NZ Sauvignon Blanc and low sodium chicken stock. I find that it is always wise to lay low on the salt- even water is better than high sodium chicken stock. Let the whole mixture cook slowly and keep adding more liquid than you ever thought you would need. Another good addition is a pinch of dried or fresh thyme.

Woah, serious echo in here! LOL.

Echoing other reviewers, this is a delicious risotto -- as long as a generous pinch of saffron and a delicious dry white wine are involved. Refreshingly light. This will be my new go-to risotto, with plenty of add-in possibilities (peas, asparagus, prosciutto, roasted cauliflower, etc.).

I also use a nice olive oil in place of the vegetable oil, and I agree that the wine you use matters. Choose wisely. If you feel that the saffron is a throwaway ingredient, your idea of a large pinch is somewhere south of mine. Be generous with it and you will be rewarded but, no, turmeric isn't an acceptable replacement. Perhaps one's assessment of this dish is a subjective call, but I think it's both subtle and rich, like a cashmere sweater. Great comfort food, especially for a cold and/or rainy day.

I thought this was excellent. I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil and manchego cheese instead of parm and it turned out fantastic. I also used amazing homemade stock, so I think that enhanced the flavor as well.

I'm surprised there aren't better reviews for this recipe - I thought it was perfect. I followed everything to a T - including the saffron. I didn't add bay leaf, and didn't feel I needed to. It takes a while, I think waiting for the rice to absorb the stock is an important component but well, well worth it. I didn't both using great parmesan, just regular grated cheese and low fat butter with vegetable stock. Thought it was absolutely fantastic, just the right combo of cheesy and warm and comfort, without all the calories. Served with Ciopinno Style Crab Soup (also from this site) and would have added a vegetable if I had more time, but it was raining outside and this as a combo seemed perfect even without a little green on the side. I definitely wouldn't use this as a main dish, it compliments another dish better and may be too rich to stand on its own.

Turmeric is NO replacement for saffron, which imparts a very singular flavor in addition to the golden color.

It was good. Seemed to be missing something. I used turmeric instead of saffron. I couldn't bear spending $25 for such a small amount. Any suggestions as how I might add more flavor w/o using salt? Served steamed broccoli on the side.

This was recipe was fairly good, however there are better. If I were to use this recipe again I would double it, as it was not nearly enough for 4 people.

The final flavor of this dish heavily depends on what wine you add, so choose well. Saffron should be an element of the flavor if it seemed like a wasted ingredient, try making the "large pinch" a little larger next time. This is certainly a make-it-again recipe.

This was just "okay". I've made less expensive and better risotto. I followed this recipe to the letter and found it too salty and lacking. I will not make this again. I have a dozen other risotto recipes that are far better - the saffron didn't make any difference to this a wasted ingredient.

This recipe is very good. I don't know how you can use a bay leaf if you're making real risotto and not dumping all the liquid in at once. Too much wine and cheese? Please. Perfect low cal side.

This recipe is OK. As written asks for too much white wine and cheese. Watch for too many extreme flavors. Has potential.

I just made this for my husband and me, and there was tons. I'm not sure why the NJ cook had to double up. It was pretty bland, despite adding a bay leaf and very good Parmigiano Reggiano as well as some strong chicken and veggie stock and a lot of wine. I dont think I would bother making this again except as a side dish.

I thought for as easy as this recipe is to "throw" together, it was very tasty! I loved the saffron and parmigiano mix. perfect for a night when I want some comfort food but doesn't have a million calories either. The only down side was that it wasn't enough for my husband and I so next time, iɽ double the recipe.

Creamy, Dreamy Risotto Recipes

From traditional recipes to those made with oats (don't knock it 'til you try it), risotto is the perfect dish when you're craving something warm, rich and comforting.

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Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

According to Ina, the key to perfect risotto is carefully timing the addition of chicken stock. To make sure she doesn&rsquot add the stock too fast or too slow, she pours in a ladle at a time, which ensures that all the rice cooks evenly.

The Best Risotto

With relatively few ingredients (none of them being cream), the success of a classic creamy risotto depends largely on technique. We've tested all the methods and narrowed it down to a few easy-to-follow steps that will help you achieve perfectly cooked Italian-style rice every time. This basic recipe is delicious on its own and makes a wonderful base to add your favorite vegetables or protein.

Vegan Saffron Risotto

Inspired by the flavors of bouillabaisse (the Provencal seafood stew), this creamy, saffron-hued risotto is a special occasion dish for vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters. Ingredients high in umami (the savory fifth taste), like tomato paste, soy sauce and canned tomatoes, add depth nutritional yeast adds a bit of a cheesy taste. Make the stock ahead of time, and rewarm it when you're ready to make the dish.

Red Wine Risotto with Peas

Giada proves that risotto is easier to make than you think. Red wine adds a rich, robust flavor and add in frozen peas right at the end for a quick hit of freshness.

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"

The preparation for Ina's parmesan risotto is nearly effortless. Her trick is to cook the Arborio rice with chicken stock in a Dutch oven. This method of long, slow cooking, eliminates the need for constant stirring, which you'll find with most stovetop risotto recipes.

Mushroom and Pancetta Risotto

Pancetta is a great add-in for creamy, comforting risotto. It has a flavor that is similar to bacon but it isn&rsquot smoky &mdash which means it won&rsquot overwhelm the more delicate flavors in this dish.

Risotto with Parmesan and Lemon

In honor of the special Family issue, Food Network Magazine asked the kids of some Food Network stars to act as guest editors and share their favorite family dinners. Here&rsquos what Geoffrey Zakarian&rsquos daughter, Anna, had to say about this risotto dish: &ldquoRisotto is sort of our family tradition. It&rsquos so creamy, it melts in my mouth.&rdquo

Almond Arancini

Leftover risotto is combined with toasted almonds and mozzarella cheese and fried in olive oil to make crunchy rice balls with a gooey cheese center served with marinara for dipping.

Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Risotto

This entree is vegetarian, but the mushrooms make it hearty enough for non-vegetarians too. The flavors are perfect for the colder weather of fall.

Instant Pot Shrimp Risotto

If you think your Instant Pot is only good for soups and stews, think again. Achieve the taste of slow-cooked risotto that taste like you've been attending to for half an hour, without ever stirring. Your Instant Pot does all the hard work and you can take the credit for a restaurant-worthy meal that takes almost no effort.

Spring Green Risotto

Ina says, "For this recipe, I start with sauteed leeks and fennel, then add Arborio rice, white wine and simmering chicken stock, gradually adding more stock as the rice cooks. A quick addition of lemon zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, Parmesan cheese and fresh chives, and you've got a delicious dinner the whole family will love. Once you've made this recipe a few times and you have the technique down, risotto will be easy to whip up after a busy day. Just turn on some good music, pour a glass of wine and unwind as you stir."

Fontina Risotto with Chicken

Flavor this creamy risotto with a healthy helping of Parmigiano-Reggiano and fontina cheese, then top with chopped deli-smoked chicken for a decadent one-dish meal. Bonus: Use the leftovers the next day for crispy risotto cakes (see next slide).

Risotto Cakes with Mixed Greens

Make the most of your leftover risotto by turning it into crispy, creamy cakes, for a quick meal that requires almost no prep.

Risotto Scampi Fra Diavolo

In this spicy dish, Jeff simmers the Arborio rice with crushed red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock and garlic. One cooked, he mixes the risotto with butter, fresh parsley and sautéed shrimp.

Risotto with Yogurt and Peas

Make the most of your fridge staples with this yummy risotto. Greek yogurt adds tons of creaminess while frozen peas lend a pop of color.

Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto

Broccoli and cheddar are a surefire combination, especially in a creamy, delicious risotto. Baking the dish, as opposed to cooking on the stove, saves you from constant stirring &mdash you can use that time to open a bottle of wine, instead.

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

Oven-roasted cauliflower is a hearty addition to decadent risotto with fontina cheese and sliced almonds.

Risotto with Mascarpone and Prosciutto

Melt in creamy mascarpone cheese and delicate prosciutto for your most luxurious risotto yet.

Grilled Corn Risotto

Geoffrey&rsquos risotto uses corn two ways: The cobs flavor the stock that he uses to cook the rice, and grilled kernels are folded in at the end for a fresh, summery take on this classic dish.

Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp is featured in this recipe, but any kind of seafood will work. The saffron adds a very classic and tantalizing element to the dish. The parsley at the end is optional, but it adds freshness and a burst of color.

Mock Risotto

A combination of barley and brown rice make this a hearty, no-fuss mock risotto. Packed with vegetables and given a little bit of creaminess from reduced fat cream cheese, this is a perfect vegetarian main dish or side dish.

Microwave Mushroom Risotto

Here is a risotto that doesn't demand you spend 30 minutes stirring a hot pot. We start with an earthy broth made with dried mushrooms, then add fresh mushrooms and Arborio rice. One stir and, minutes later, you'll have the easiest, creamiest risotto imaginable.

Shrimp with Whole Grain Corn-Oat Risotto

If shrimp and grits are your kind of comfort food, then this whole-grain version is right up your alley. We use steel-cut oats instead of Arborio rice and follow the classic risotto technique of adding hot stock in batches. Constant stirring helps coax the starch out of the oats for creaminess.

Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto

An easy way to achieve an elegant meal in no time is cooking your risotto in the Instant Pot! This recipe calls for leeks, mushrooms, white wine and minimal stirring.

Risotto Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini

Rachael says, &ldquothe risotto is delicious stuffed in either peppers or squash so keep that in mind if one looks better than the other at the market. Also, the zucchini can be mixed with small firm yellow squash rather than red peppers.&rdquo

Dirty Risotto

Italy meets the American South in Giada&rsquos version of risotto. For an Italian twist on dirty rice, she uses pancetta, spicy Italian sausage and freshly grated Parmesan.

Risotto with Asparagus

Waste not, want not with this easy recipe. The asparagus bottoms, which are typically tossed out, are used to make a flavorful broth for cooking the rice. Fresh lemon and lemon zest add a delicate touch of citrus to the risotto.

Saffron Recipes

A round up of our favorite saffron recipes with saffron threads via an Afghanistan co-op. Shipped as saffron threads, for grinding by hand before use. Steep 1-2 strands to flavor an entire pot of rice, or add to risottos, pilafs or vegetable dishes for a beautiful color & flavor.

Saffron Chicken

A easy, simple and deliciously elegant saffron chicken dish, with a drizzle of olive oil and high quality saffron threads, ready in less than 30 minutes. Full recipe here.

How To Make The Best Saffron Rice

One pinch of saffron threads adds a luxurious, bright, lovely golden color and smell to a pot of steamed saffron rice - we'd eat this daily if we could. Full recipe here.

Saffron Tea With Ginger & Honey

All you need is freshly ground saffron threads, water & fresh ginger to make this super healthy, refreshing saffron tea. Full recipe here.

Saffron Sponge Cake

This delicate saffron cake combines saffron threads, pomegranates and the light, cloudlike sponge cake for a deliciously light, beautiful dessert. Full recipe here.

How To Make Tachin (Persian Saffron Rice)

Strips of fragrant saffron threads gives this recipe an amazing flavor. Full recipe here.

Swedish Saffron Buns

These Swedish saffron buns are known as Lussebullar, in Sweden and are made in kitchens all over the country in honor of St. Lucia's Day, also known as the Festival of Light. Full recipe here.

Saffron Risotto (Risotto alla Milanese)

Saffron-rich risotto alla Milanese is a specialty of Milan. Medium-grain Italian rice is essential for achieving a rich, creamy consistency, as it has the ideal starch content. Arborio rice is the most common choice for risotto in the U.S., but cooks in Milan&mdashand at Milk Street&mdashpreferred carnaroli. We found that the grains better retained their structure and resisted overcooking. With careful cooking, however, Arborio will yield delicious results. A quick five-ingredient homemade vegetable broth is the best cooking liquid for this risotto its fresh, clean flavor won't compete with the other ingredients. Serve in warmed, shallow bowls to prevent the rice from cooling too quickly. If the flavor and aroma of saffron don't appeal to you, try one of our variations the techniques we learned in Milan also worked well for other flavors.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 qts. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup finely grated grana or parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon (rind only), store-bought or homemade
  • ½ teaspoon Marash or Aleppo pepper*
  • Spice-Crusted Scallops

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, covered. Add saffron and reduce to a bare simmer, covered.

Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 8-qt. pot. Add onion cook until translucent and turning golden, 10 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains look translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add wine and salt to rice and cook, stirring, until wine is completely absorbed. Add about 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring, until absorbed reduce heat to medium-low if mixture starts to boil. Keep adding broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender to the bite and still slightly soupy, 15 to 30 minutes. You may have broth left over.

Remove rice from heat and stir in cheese, crème fraîche, 2 tbsp. chives, the preserved lemon, and Marash pepper. Serve immediately with Spice-Crusted Scallops. Scatter more chives on top.

Risotto Milanese

The classic recipe for Risotto Milanese calls for saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world. Saffron comes from the dried stigmas of the Crocus sativus, a fall-blooming crocus primarily cultivated in Spain and Portugal. Its high cost is due to the miniscule yield from each flower and its labor-intensive harvesting methods. Saffron is generally sold in small, individual packets, and fortunately, most recipes call for only a pinch. Don&rsquot omit it, though its yellow color and unique flavor impart a delicious quality to not only risotto, but also to such dishes as arroz con pollo, paella, and Indian biryani.


  • 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • Pinch saffron
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a medium sauce pan, bring broth to a boil and lower heat to keep warm. In a small bowl, combine saffron and a ladle of stock set aside to steep.

In a heavy saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and toss it around with a wooden spoon to coat it well with butter, but do not let it brown.

Add wine and stir until it reduces and is nearly evaporated.

Add 1 or 2 ladles of warm stock. Stir continuously until rice absorbs the liquid before adding more. Continue to add remaining stock in the same method, stirring until rice is tender and creamy. Stir in the saffron-infused stock until it is well combined and distributes its lovely flavor and color.

When the rice is tender to the bite and almost dry, stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and Parmesan cheese. The grains of rice will be soft and creamy, yet separate. Serve immediately. Garnish with additional freshly grated cheese, if you&rsquod like.

Adapted from James Beard's original recipe. Recipe photo and food styling by Judy Kim.


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