Recipe: Sage risotto bites

Total time: 45 minutes plus at least 2 hours chilling

Servings: 12 to 16 (makes 64 bites)

Note: When Regina Schrambling wrote about the evolving aperitivo scene in Italy, she shared recipes for snacks to serve with cocktails, including this deliciously clever example.

3 tablespoons unsalted

butter, plus extra for pan

1 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Arborio rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup dry vermouth or white wine

3 cups chicken stock

1/2teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste

1/2cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

30 leaves fresh sage (1 large bunch), sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1. Melt the butter in a deep heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and salt and stir until coated. Stir in the vermouth or wine. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the wine is absorbed.

2. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock, cooking until the rice is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper and cheese, blending well. Cool slightly, then stir in the sage, again blending well.

3. Butter an 8-inch-square baking dish. Scrape the rice into it, smoothing the top completely. Chill uncovered until completely set, about 2 hours (or overnight).

4. Just before serving, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Line a platter with parchment paper or waxed paper and set it close by.

5. Using a small sharp knife, cut the chilled risotto into 1-inch squares. Using a small spatula, carefully remove each square from the dish and transfer to the hot skillet. Brown on both sides, turning with tongs or a small spatula. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Each bite: 24 calories; 1 gram protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 1 gram fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 3 mg. cholesterol; 61 mg. sodium.

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