Risottos perfect for spring vegetables
Forum: Sara’s Soup Kitchen
- Risottos perfect for spring vegetables
Sara's Soup Kitchen
April 20, 2009
Recipes for Health
Risottos Perfect for Spring Vegetables
By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
When I think of spring vegetables, I think of sweet English peas and fresh green fava beans, baby artichokes and green garlic, lush stalks of asparagus and mild onions, tender new carrots and delicate leeks. I use them in side dishes and starters, ragouts and salads - but more than anything, I build risottos around them.
Peas, fava beans and artichokes, all highly nutritious, require a fair amount of preparation: peas must be shelled, fava beans shelled then skinned, artichoke hearts trimmed. Using them in a risotto saves time, I find, because you don’t need the quantities necessary for individual servings.
Spring onions, leeks and green garlic are less time-consuming and just as nutritious: they contain sulfur compounds thought to have cancer-fighting properties and perhaps coronary health benefits. These vegetables are mildest and sweetest in spring, a perfect time to get in the habit of eating more of them.
Saffron Risotto With Spring Onion, Saffron and Green Garlic
This is inspired by — but much lighter than — risotto Milanese, the mother of all risottos. If you’ve never made a risotto, start with this utterly simple classic.
Green garlic resembles spring onions or leeks. The young bulbs have not yet set cloves. The flavor isn’t at all sharp, but more like the flavor of leeks. Prepare as you would leeks.
About 7 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion or leek
2/3 cup finely chopped green garlic (about 2 bulbs)
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
Generous pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1. Put the stock or broth into a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over low heat with a ladle nearby. Make sure that the broth is well seasoned.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet or saucepan. Add the spring onion, green garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook gently until it is just tender, about three minutes. Do not brown.
3. Add the rice, and stir just until the grains separate and begin to crackle. Rub the saffron between your thumb and fingers, and stir into the rice. Add the wine, stirring until it has been absorbed. Begin adding the simmering stock, a couple of ladlefuls (about 1/2 cup) at a time. The stock should just cover the rice and should be bubbling, not too slowly nor too quickly. Cook, stirring often, until the stock is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock. Continue to cook in this fashion, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry and stirring. When the rice is just tender all the way through but still chewy, in 20 to 25 minutes, it is done. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
4. Add another ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir in the Parmesan, and remove from the heat. The mixture should be creamy. Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than lumping into a mound.
Yield: Serves four to six
Advance preparation: You can begin several hours before serving. Proceed with the recipe, cooking halfway through step 3 — that is, for about 15 minutes. The rice should still be hard when you remove it from the heat, and there should be no liquid in the pan. Spread an even layer in the pan, and keep it away from the heat until you resume cooking. If the pan is not wide enough for you to spread the rice in a thin layer, transfer it to a sheet pan. Fifteen minutes before serving, bring the remaining stock back to a simmer, and reheat the rice. Resume cooking as instructed.
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