Vegetable Risotto

This recipe came from a recipe test I did for Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. It’s a good side dish to serve with seafook or grilled meats. Be sure to use a short grain risotto type of rice. Long grain rice doesn’t have a high enough starch content and won’t produce a creamy result.

1 pound thin asparagus
4 medium onions, diced small
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, stems reserved
4 cups homemade chicken broth
3 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1. Wash the asparagus, snap off the tough ends and reserve. Cut the spears on the bias into 1/2-inch lengths and set aside.
2. Chop the tough asparagus ends into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring chopped asparagus stems, 2 cups of onions, parsley stems, broth and water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to the saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in the now empty Dutch oven over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add remaining 2 cups of onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rice to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups of broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
6. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, minced parsley, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen the texture. Serve immediately.

Servings: 6

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