Risottos (risotti) are usually hearty and rich affairs, and recently I’ve been in the mood for one, but was tired of the expected over-richness of the usual suspects; mushroom risottos, saffron risottos etc. I’ve been looking for a risotto that offered the same comfort and homeyness that’s expected of the dish but with a bright freshness to it as well. Enter this dish, a zesty and light tasting plate of food that seems nice and fresh, but make no mistake is just as decadent and guilty as the richest of risottos. The brightness of the asparagus and the lemon zest provide the perfect counterpoint to the creamy richness of the Parmesan and butter laden rice. As with any risotto, its success is founded on the quality of the stock, and no store bought stock (no matter how fancy) can compare with home prepared stock, so invest a few hours in preparing the stock yourself. Click here if you don’t have a preferred method for making chicken stock. Recipe after the jump.
Makes a generous 4 portions:
2 cups of risotto rice, either Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
About 150-200g of baby asparagus cut into roughly 2cm long pieces
About 20 fresh broad bean pods (use the beans, discard the pod)
4 small shallots chopped
About 100-150g of Parmesan cheese freshly grated
Zest of half a lemon
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2L of chicken stock (Warm)
Small handful of toasted pine nuts and baby rocket leaves for garnish
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
For the asparagus:
heat some olive oil in a pan on a very high heat, and once hot, toss in the asparagus and the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and toss around for about 3min. Take off the heat and reserve in a separate plate.
For the broad beans:
After shelling the beans from the pods, steam the beans for about three minutes, reserve on the side.
For the Risotto:
A risotto usually needs about 20min on the heat from when the first bit of stock is added, it’s important to always be mindful of that. A risotto is cooked both by taste, but also one needs to be aware of cooking times in order to know when to add the flavoring ingredients.
In a deep pan over a medium high heat, warm up the olive oil and then toss in the shallots and cook until softened but not colored (about 3mins). Add the rice and stir about to make sure it’s toasted for another 3-4 minutes, make sure nothing burns, not the rice nor the shallots. Add the wine and cook until it’s almost completely evaporated (at this heat, it shoudn’t take more than a couple of minutes). Then add the stock, start by adding three ladel fulls, lower the heat to medium and stir the stock until incorporated. Keep adding the stock ladle by ladle stirring almost constantly. Remember to season with salt and pepper. About 15min in, have a taste of the rice, if it’s starting to soften, add the butter and stir for a couple of minutes, then the Parmesan with the beans and the asparagus and the zest. Stir everything together for another minute or so and test to make sure the rice is cooked nicely but definitely not without a bit of chew.
Plate the risotto, drizzle a bit of high quality olive oil on the plate, add some more grated Parmesan cheese and the rocket leaves. Your risotto is ready! Hope you enjoy.