In the Kitchen with Jackie — Spooky Black Risotto with Octopus

‘Tis the season to be spooky! If you’re not trick or treating this year, you might as well be treating yourself to a home-cooked meal.

This Halloween I wanted to make a dish that looks creepy, something that at first glance you might not actually want to dig in to. In Di Bruno’s prepared foods counter there is a huge bowl of prepared tentacles that look like they’re ready to climb out! I just had to make a dish featuring these deliciously disturbing legs.

Since I was little I always found seafood slightly scary; why would we bother eating these ugly creatures of the deep? Then as a teenager I traveled to Italy and experienced meals of freshly-caught fish, shrimp and octopus and I finally(!) realized what all the fuss was about. But even though my palate has evolved, I still find some things a bit unnerving, like octopus… 

I decided to add the cooked tentacles to a black rice risotto. Campanini has an all-star line up of Italian grains. The Venere Black Rice is a hybrid grain that combines Asian black rice with an Italian varietal for a unique texture and appearance.

The hull is where it gets its striking dark color and nutty bread flavor. I used the basic recipe on the back of the box, but with a seafood twist to tie in the octopus. Aneto paella broth has a vibrant seafood flavor and pairs so well with the rich rice. 

Our resident wine maven, Sande, suggested rounding the dish off with a unique orange wine. Not only does the color fit with the Halloween theme but their robust flavor profiles plays well with seafood dishes. Orange wine gets its name and color from fermenting white grapes with their skin and seeds still intact. The results are more tannic, bold flavors compared to a white wine where only the grape juice is fermented.

Risotto is one of those dishes that requires a lot of attention – it’s a labor of love. The broth is ladled in a little at a time allowing the rice to slowly absorb the liquid and resulting in a luxurious creamy texture. So if you find standing by a stove daunting, just open a bottle of orange wine while you cook and enjoy the process!

Spooky Black Risotto
Serves 4

This recipe is adapted from the Venere Risotto found on the back of the Campanini rice box. If you are unable to get a hold of cooked tentacles shrimp would make an excellent substitute. 

1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 cup Venere Black Rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups Aneto Seafood Paella Broth
2 tbsp of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups octopus tentacles, cooked
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges, for serving

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent.

Turn up the heat to medium high, add rice and garlic then toast for about 2 minutes, stirring continually to avoid burning.

Add 1 cup of broth at time allowing each cup to absorb before adding another. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.

When the rice is tender and creamy it’s ready – about an hour. Stir in cheese. Take the pan off the heat and cover.

Prepare the octopus in a pan. The pre-cooked legs only require to be heated for a few minutes.

Serve the risotto in a shallow bowl. Top with tentacles, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Previously on In the Kitchen with Jackie: 


    Hello! My name is Jackie Botto and I’ve been working with Di Bruno Bros. for over five years – styling, photographing and sometimes cooking with all the phenomenal ingredients they offer. CHEESE? Yes, mostly cheese. This blog is the space where I’ll share the things I make. No, I am not a professional chef, I’m a home chef! I cook for myself, my family, my friends – and then I take photos of what I make with the hope it inspires you to cook too.Want to share some tips or pairings of your own? Please leave a comment below!