Rice once ruled the river marshes outside colonial Charleston, and risotto is kin to our traditional low-country pilau. Although I often use heritage Carolina Gold grain, classic risotto is made with Arborio rice, originally found in Italy’s Po Valley but now grown in Texas. Arborio is a stubby, milky grain that heat-releases amylopectin, a starch that gives risotto its creamy but chewy texture. Charleston’s historic influence also shows up in the Spanish-tinged sofrito, a mixture of aromatics cooked so slowly, it almost melts away. And because we’re at the height of summer’s produce season, I load in ratatouille-style vegetables from my own farm. Your local green market should be just as plentiful. Remember that freshly picked vegetables have a shiny exterior, and that squash and eggplant should feel “tight” (squishy = loaded with water = soggy). Once you get the technique down, stop short of adding the tomatoes and create your own variation. This is just your gateway recipe.

Sean Brock is the chef at McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina.