Monday, August 23, 2010

Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Basil

I've always wanted to try making risotto, and I was especially motivated after enjoying the radicchio risotto at the Nauset Beach Club. So I took out a risotto book from the library and I was set to go. I made this recipe when fresh peas and asparagus were still in season earlier in the year and I had fresh basil in the garden.


Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Basil (Risotto Con Asparagi, Pieslli, E Basilico) Serves 4.
From Risotto: 30 Simply Delicious Vegetarian Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Ursula Ferrigno & Jason Lowe.

* 4 cups vegetable stock (for a homemade recipe)
* ½ cup unsalted butter
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 8 shallots, finely chopped
* 1-½ cups risotto rice (I used arborio)
* ½ cup white wine
* 12 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2” lengths
* 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled peas
* finely grated zest of 1 lemon
* 1-½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* a large handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped

Heat the vegetable stock until almost boiling, then reduce the heat until barely simmering to keep it hot.
Heat the butter and oil in a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat.
Add the shallots and cook for 1-2 min, until softened but not browned.
Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the grains are well coated and glistening, about 1 min.
Pour in the wine and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
Add 1 ladle of hot stock and simmer, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
After 10 min, add the asparagus, peas, and lemon zest and mix well.
Continue to add the stock at intervals and cook as before, for a further 8-10 min, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (al dente).
Add the reserved stock, Parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper.
Mix well.
Remove from the heat, cover, and let rest for 2 min.
Spoon into warmed bowls and garnish with basil and grated Parmesan, if using.
Serve immediately.

Peas and purple Ontario asparagus.

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Top: Cook the onion in butter and add the rice.
Bottom: Keep stirring and add vegetables near the end.

My boyfriend A and I both enjoyed this dish. I really liked the addition of the lemon zest; I found it added a kick to the dish. I think if you add whatever ingredient is in season to the risotto, it will be greatly successful.


Making risotto seems overwhelming; it takes a bit of patience but if you follow the instructions it will turn out great and well worth it. I cannot wait to try other types of risotto, especially with mushrooms in the fall!

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