farmer's market opened up recently, providing fresh inspiration to cook some new dishes. There aren't a whole lot of local vegetables available in New Jersey this time of year, but we did find some asparagus that became the basis for this dish. John's parents came over last weekend for a belated mother's day dinner, and we put together this risotto, along with a rosemary and garlic pork loin (recipe to come).
Risotto is becoming one of my favorite things to cook. While it does require a lot of attention, I'm really coming to enjoy the process of adding a little stock, stirring, waiting for it to absorb, adding some more stock, sipping some wine (I had to open a bottle anyways...), stirring, etc. And this particular recipe calls for a gremolata topping, which apparently is a posh way of saying "smooshed up herbs and lemon zest". It was a nice touch, and you use the stems from the herbs to add extra flavor to your broth. I loved how this turned out, and it was a perfect excuse to cook up some spring veggies.
Spring Vegetable Risotto
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves , stems reserved
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves , stems reserved
1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon
1 pound asparagus , tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
1 large onion, diced, and 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (see note)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1. For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
2. For the Risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring asparagus ends, roughly chopped onion, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan; cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 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 vegetables to plate and set aside.
4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add diced onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice 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 hot 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 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan separately.
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a side dish/first course.
Download a printable recipe.