Don’t you just love how food can remind you of some of the happiest moments in your life? Whenever I am making this seafood risotto in my home kitchen I am instantly transported back to Portofino in Italy. I think of the pretty Piazzetta, the pastel-coloured houses and the night my partner and I phoned our parents to share the happy news that we were planning to get married.
We had been travelling around Italy, taking in Rome, Florence and Pisa, with the biggest smiles on our faces. All the while we had a huge secret: we had decided to get engaged while we were in Rome on the very first night of our vacation.
We were staying at the lovely Fifteen Keys Hotel and had reserved a table for dinner at Dal Bolognese, nearby Piazza del Popolo. We were seated outside and had some gorgeous Italian red wine. As the food started to appear, we somehow got chatting about when we should get married. Before desserts left the kitchen, we had made plans to buy engagement rings the following day.
Celebrating our engagement in Portofino
At the end of a week of secret celebrations that started with martinis in the Hassler Hotel bar, we arrived in the pretty village of Portofino. After unpacking our bags and breaking the news to our parents, we went out to Chuflay Restaurant in the corner of the Piazzetta to celebrate the last stop on our Grand Tour.
While researching our trip, we had watched Andrea Bocelli belt out love songs by the waterfront on the TV. The restaurant caught our eye and we felt compelled to eat there.
Fortunately, our intuition paid off. As we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated at a candlelit table on the terrace, looking out to the yachts in the harbour. After a rich aubergine starter and a glass of champagne (what else?), I plumped for the Italian seafood risotto.
I was served a generous portion, packed full of thick tiger prawns and punctuated with tender slices of squid, clams and mussels. The sauce was creamy, with softened tomatoes, a liberal grind of black pepper and the biggest basil leaves I have ever seen.
Italian seafood risotto inspired by the Riviera
To make the Italian seafood risotto even more special, I’ve added a good splash of prosecco to my version, but if you want to go all out you could add some celebratory lobster, scallops or champagne.
You don’t have to use the fizzy stuff though; any white wine will do. However, I quite like popping open a bottle and having a cheeky glass of bubbles in the kitchen, while the seafood risotto is bubbling away.
A simple recipe for an Italian seafood risotto with prosecco, inspired by Chuflay Restaurant in Portofino, Italy
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100 g fresh king prawns
- 100 g mixed clams, mussels and squid
- 200 g risotto rice
- 7-8 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 bottle prosecco
- 200 ml fish stock
- 50 g salted butter
- 1 grind black pepper
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves
Fry the prawns, mussels and squid rings in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Use a large sauce pan and fry over a medium heat.
Add the risotto rice, tomatoes, and a good splash of the prosecco. As the rice soaks up the liquid, keep adding more wine until it has all been soaked up.
Pour the fish stock into the risotto little by little and keep stirring continuously.
Add a knob of butter after about 30-40 minutes, when all of the liquid has been soaked up. Stir into the dish thoroughly, so it is mixed throughout. This adds an extra creaminess to the risotto.
Serve with a good grind of black pepper and the biggest basil leaves you can get your hands on. Just two or three large leaves should suffice.