Rich and luxurious risotto combined with a spring green color palette of vegetables makes a delightful vegetarian main dish or perfect side.
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Spring is finally here in most areas of the United States and spring vegetables are bountiful. Is it warming up nicely where you are? Or is winter still persisting?
A beautiful, spring green color palette of vegetables – asparagus, scallions (also known as green onions), grilled artichokes (I know they aren’t really green, but they do say spring) and parsley -highlight this delicious risotto. Each vegetable’s complex flavor compliments the other, to superbly come together and create one of the most delightful risottos you’ll ever taste!
Now that we’ve covered the veggies, let’s talk about the risotto. Done right, risotto is absolutely sublime: ultra-creamy with just a touch of toothsomeness. Despite its reputation for being fussy or time-intensive, risotto is actually quite simple to make and the results are more than worth it!
First, you start with a soffritto. Every great risotto starts with a good soffritto: sautéing onions in butter and olive oil.
Next, you’ll want to toast the arborio rice grains. You will add your rice to the soffritto with no liquid, so that each grain gets warmed up and ensure uniform cooking of the grain, so it’s a fairly important step. Make sure all the rice is nicely toasted – about two minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Then you can add the white wine and stir until it evaporates completely before moving to the next step.
Then you will slowly add the warmed (vegetarian or chicken) broth or stock one ladle full at a time. Stock (or broth) is very flavorful so don’t skimp and use water. You’ll add another ladle full when the liquid is almost completely absorbed by the rice.
The idea that homemade risotto is time-consuming and tedious is a common misconception. Sure, it requires some love and attention in the form of stirring, but it really only takes about 30 minutes for the rice to cook from start to finish.
And I told you this, because we are entering the labor intensive part of the preparation. Adding stock needs to be accompanied by continuous stirring, so that the temperature remains constant allowing the starch to release and so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
After I’ve added the second or third ladle of stock, I add one to three pieces (depending on how big they are) of parmesan rind. After I get finished with a parmesan wedge, I keep the rinds in the freezer and add them to soups and stews.
Just as the last bit of stock is being absorbed, add the asparagus, scallions, lime zest and grilled artichoke hearts so they can warm through.
Next add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Can you hear the cheesy goodness as you do this? To make it even rich and creamier — is there such a thing? — add 3-4 Tablespoon of heavy cream. Stir to combine one last time.
All that’s left to do is plate this creamy perfection, sprinkle with more parsley and enjoy!
This Spring Green Risotto is versatile makes a divine vegetarian dinner entrée, but just as wonderful as a side next to your favorite fish, meat or poultry. This would be a marvelous addition to your Mother’s Day menu! 🙂
Spring Green Risotto
Yields 4 servings as main course or 6-8 servings as a side
1-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups simmering chicken (or vegetable) stock
1-3 pieces of parmesan rind (optional)
1 pound thin asparagus
2 spring onions, white and light green parts, chopped, plus extra for serving
zest of lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute artichokes until they are golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.
Add the rice and stir for two minutes to coat with oil and butter. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
Add the chicken stock, 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly. After the first or second ladle, add parmesan rinds. Wait for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1-inch lengths discarding 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 artichokes, spring onions, lime zest, salt, and pepper.
Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and heavy whipping cream.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of parsley and more Parmesan cheese.
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