Spring Green Risotto

This has meal has always been a long-time favorite of mine, but recently it’s become a favorite of all SIX family members.  This is one-part miracle and another part *they don’t really have a choice*.  Quite honestly the baby loves this meal and really, who’s going to argue with a pregnant cook and her cravings?  So while this might be a case of which came first – the chicken or the egg? – the point is that this dish has become an almost weekly meal in our dinner rotation that everyone happily eats.

Amen.

That alone is reason enough to record the recipe for my children.  Because they will no doubt have only fond childhood memories of this spring-y comfort food.  Right?  Here’s hoping.

As with most of my favorite recipes, this too is one of Ina’s creations.  I really think it’s our mutual love of butter, hydrangeas and white kitchens that have brought us together.

I highly recommend making this dinner at the end of a long day.  There is nothing more therapeutic than chopping and chopping some more and then stirring and stirring some more.  It also requires you to make a big ‘ol mess of your kitchen and to use almost every utensil and dish you own.  To me, that’s all the more reason to love this dish.  Just be sure your hubby is on board for dish-duty.

Spring Green Risotto

recipe by Ina, adapted by me.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2-3 leeks)
1 cup chopped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade {Ha.  This is where Ina and I differ.  I have however discovered a new chicken stock: “Kitchen Basics” is the brand.  It makes all other chicken stock look and taste like water.}
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving {Ina got me on this one…I’ve started grating all of our parmesan cheese and the difference is amazing!  You really should give it a try.}

Directions:

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water.When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of more Parmesan cheese.

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