I’m still working to creatively use many of the ingredients that have been hanging around in my pantry and freezer, something I've been doing it all month. Known as digging in your pantry, or sometimes eating down the fridge, it’s a way to save money and make sure food does not get wasted.

Last night I took some leftover shredded rotisserie I had from a few nights before and combined it with items I already had in my pantry, Arborio rice and chicken broth, to make a risotto. I grabbed one of the Parmesan cheese rinds that I keep in my freezer and added some other staples to create a satisfying main dish risotto. I didn't have any leftover peas or mushrooms in the fridge, but they would have made nice additions to it, too. As I type this, it occured to me that adding one of the roasted red pepper portions in my freezer that are intended for hummus would have gone well, also. There's definitely room with a dish like this to get creative with what you add. 

The chicken risotto was a hit, and when it was time to clean up, there was just one pot, a measuring cup, a knife and a cutting board to to wash from dinner prep.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic (I used jarred)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 c Arborio rice
  • 3 c of chicken broth or stock, divided
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c cooked shredded or cubed chicken
  • 1/4 c fresh, chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a heavy 3-quart pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Allow the wine to evaporate. Remove the bay leaf.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add 1 cup of the chicken broth, the rice, and the Parmesan cheese rind if you’re using one. Stir.
  5. Continue to stir every minute or so until all of the liquid is absorbed, and then add another 1/2 cup of the chicken broth.
  6. Once the additional chicken broth has been absorbed by the rice, add another 1/2 cup, continuing to stir.
  7. Continue to add an additional 1/2 cup of broth until you have only a half cup left. Don’t forget to stir frequently.
  8. Before you add the last 1/2 cup of broth, add the shredded chicken. (Do not add it before this step. Since it’s already cooked, you just want to heat it through; you don’t want to cook it further.)
  9. Add the final 1/2 cup of broth, stir and allow the liquid to be absorbed into the rice.
  10. Once all the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat. Remove the Parmesan rind, if used, and discard.
  11. Stir in parsley and grated Parmesan.
  12. Taste. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
  13. Serve immediately.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.