Friday, April 9, 2010

Quick Meal Friday: Spring Green Risotto

Someone will be irritated with me for selecting a risotto as a quick meal.

But here's the deal: When I can get so many vegetables into my kiddos with absolutely no complaint (including baby!), this is a busy 30 minutes well spent. I do have one strong suggestion. If you spend much time in the kitchen, you've undoubtedly heard this one before: The secret is mise en place. Take the time to chop and zest and blanch and measure ahead of time, and this delicious dinner will be a cinch.

This recipe is a variation on Ina Garten's Spring Green Risotto from her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients  book. (This book has some great recipes; we love the Sole Meuniere.) Our version has a few tweaks. For example, my kids are distracted by the strong taste of fennel in her version, and we usually top ours with basil rather than chives since we are more likely to have it. I also blanch my asparagus right in the boiling stock because using an extra pot would make the dish washer feel like this was anything but a quick meal... And one more suggestion: If you are lucky enough to have a quart or so of homemade chicken stock in the freezer, you'll be glad to use it here.

As you can see, my two oldest peanuts even managed to eat this despite an all-consuming obsession with Harry Potter. The kindergartner is "reading" Book 7 - gotta love it.

Spring Green Risotto
Serves 4.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine (or half as much dry vermouth)
4 to 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 pound thin asparagus, ends trimmed (or thick asparagus with stalks peeled), chopped to 1-inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
6-8 basil leaves, julienned

Set the broth to boil on a burner adjacent to the risotto saucepan. When the broth reaches a boil, add the asparagus, and blanch for 4 minutes until bright green and al dente. Remove to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat under the broth to a gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the oil and butter, and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the rice, and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine or vermouth, and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring gently and frequently, waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

After 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 frequently, until the rice is tender but still firm, about 25 to 30 minutes total.

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, and sprinkle with basil and extra Parmesan cheese to serve.

No comments: