“I like rice. It’s great if you’re hungry and you want two thousand of something.”
When Spring Has Sprung Risotto is Begging for Fresh Veg!
I read once that risotto waits for no man. I would agree with this 100% and my sharing this tidbit is entirely counter-productive to my main goal here on Be Still & Eat and that is to convince you that;
cooking is simple,
cooking does not have to be overly complex or convoluted,
and most of all, it should be entered into with a sense of freedom and artistic licence.
I still believe all of these things and even (mostly) where risotto is concerned, it’s just that where the actual clock gets involved risotto isn’t the most cooperative. It doesn’t hold particularly well and just never mind on leftovers! All of the creamy magic you’ve spent stirring into creation disappears in the fridge (or standing in the nuker waiting for people to get home). It’s kind of the princess of all dishes.
A basic tenet of cooking is that if you stir rice you will break apart the individual grains creating a stickier and more glue-y outcome than you are typically after. I’m not talking about a sticky rice of course but rather a basic rice pilaf like Syrian Rice. With risotto, you are looking to do precisely that! You’re stirring continually allowing all of those gorgeous grains to release their starches and that is how to achieve the glorious creamy finish. Once that happens I highly recommend getting it to the table without delay.
I talked a bit about the perception of the “rules of risotto” in this post for Seafood Risotto which you may find interesting.
It goes without saying that part of this dish’s appeal is the fresh spring veg. There are no rules, use what looks good to you. Don’t like green peas? Skip them. Let the freshest produce inspire you and bring it all home!
You’ll notice in the recipe that I mention homemade chicken broth. It’s what I use whenever possible. It adds a richness that cannot be duplicated with store bought. When I don’t have any on hand, a good quality low salt variety works too. My go-to brand is Campbell’s in the tetra-pak “no salt added”. I’ll do a short tutorial on homemade chicken broth very soon. It’s just so simple and makes the house smell so good AND it’s a great way to get rid of that carrot/celery/whatever-other-veg-has-been-floundering-at-the-bottom-of-your-crisper! I make it every single time I roast a whole chicken!
Using imagination and creativity in the kitchen is so simple when you cast aside rules… even when the dish has a bit of an ego and likes to be the centre of attention!
Menu suggestion: Risotto can very easily be a main course, but if you’re serving it as a side dish on any old weeknight I think you might really enjoy it with Mediterranean Marinaded Grilled Chicken. Or as it’s also known, “The Single Most Tender and Moist Chicken EVAH!”
Wine Pairing: My brother is unavailable this week (hopefully gathering some inspiration for future Be Still & Eat wine pairings!) so in his place, I’ve asked the always useful John Carlton! “I think a nice buttery Chardonnay would work here.” To which I replied, “Hey, I say that almost every day… about everything!”
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups short grain arborio or
carnarolirice *I've used brown short grain with success although a MUCH longer cooking time)
- 1 cup white wine (a more discerning chef might give you a particular type of wine... I go with whatever I happen to be
swillingwhile I cook - typically a pinot grigio)
- 6 cups (give or take) chicken broth, heated *I like homemade whenever possible
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups green peas, frozen are an
excellentchoice if fresh are unavailable.
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into
- S&P to taste
- 1 cup grated parmigiana
- zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Dollop of Mascarpone to finish *optional - but delicious*
- Chop asparagus into bite sized pieces and blanch very quickly until just tender
- Remove from heat and plunge into cold water to preserve the bright green
- Set aside
- Chop all veg as required and have ready to toss in when risotto is ready for it.
- In a wide heavy saucepan, heat a few glugs of olive oil
- Add onions, stirring until beginning to soften
- Add garlic, stirring until fragrant
- Add rice, tossing to coat
- Over medium high heat add white wine stirring slowly in from the edges until almost entirely absorbed
- Slowly and while stirring continually, add warm chicken broth one large ladle full at a time allowing each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding another.
- As you approach the end of the approximately 6 cups begin adding spring veg, the more hearty ones at the beginning of the process while leaving the more delicate (or already pre-cooked) to the very end just so as to ensure they are heated through
- Stirring constantly and over low heat, add parmigiana, S&P and lemon zest and juice. Test for seasoning.
- Serve immediately with a dollop of mascarpone if so desired