A risotto is a celebration of the new garden. With a little thought, you can easily span the seasons, combining wintered-over carrots or leeks and emerging treats, such as asparagus, peas, herbs and greens.
You can also thriftily make use of leftover holiday meals in a risotto by adding bits of roast chicken, ribbons of ham or diced shrimp near the end of cooking. Save chopped herbs for the last ten minutes of cooking too. Tender vegetables can cook right in the softening rice while firmer ingredients may need to be cooked beforehand. Classic Arborio or carnaroli rice is authentic but you might find a short-grain brown rice.
While warm stock (chicken or vegetable) is important in order to keep the rice cooking at a constant temperature, eagle-eyed supervision is an exaggeration. Don’t overdo the Parmesan either and try a sprinkle of grated lemon at the very end…and a pat of butter.
Spring Vegetable Risotto
1 small onion, 1 leek or 1 large shallot. chopped
1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 c. rice (See above)
½ c. white wine
5-6 c. stock
2 c. peas, broccoli rabe or chard leaves, chopped OR 7-12 asparagus, cut in 1” pieces
1 c. or less cooked ham, shrimp or chicken, chopped (optional)
2 c. cooked carrots, diced (optional)
¾ c. freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese
2-3 Tbs. minced fresh parsley, thyme or chive
rind of one lemon, grated (optional)
pat of butter (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Gently sauté the onion, leek or shallot in the butter and oil a wide pan. Stir in the rice, toasting it for about a minute. Add the wine, continuing to stir until it evaporates. Now add the warmed stock, a cupful at a time. Rice absorbs at different rates so you may not need all of the liquid. Stir and cook gently for about 25-35 min., adding stock as needed, until the rice is almost tender to the bite. Stir in the broccoli rabe or chard until it wilts or stir in the peas or asparagus pieces, cooking until they become tender. Add cooked carrots and/or meat or shrimp, if using. Taste, add more stock if necessary and stir. When the rice is tender and somewhat creamy, add cheese and chopped herbs. Season to taste.