Spring is finally here! Maybe the weather still finds it hard to decide, whether it's time to add more sun, less rain and cut down on the gray tones but at least every day it's a bit more green. The colors of the grass are a little more vivid, trees and flowers slowly start to bloom. All that's missing is a nice shade of blue in the sky....
In the kitchen it's very spring-like, too. I came back home with a big bag of fresh asparagus that each day became a different dish. And today it ended up in a risotto....
serves 4, prep time 40 min, cooking time 35 min
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of spring onions, ends trimmed, and sliced
300g green peas (frozen)
2 tbsp shredded basil
2 tbsp snipped chives
1 tbsp chopped mint
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1.7 l of vegetable bouillion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g carnaroli or arborio rice
25g Parmesan cheese
150ml dry white wine
25g rocket leaves
1. Cut the wooden ends of asparagus, then slice the stems into 5cm diagonal lengths. Heat half of the oil in a non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat for 4 min. Add spring onions and cook for another 1-2min. Remove, season with pepper, and set aside
2. Cook the peas in boiling water for 3min, then drain and set aside.
3. Mix the basil, chives, mint, and lemon zest together in a small bowl, season with pepper and set aside.
1. Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep it on a very low heat. Pour the other half of olive oil (1tbsp) into a large pan. Tip the shallots and garlic, fry for 3-4 min or until soft. Stir in the rice, then continue to stir for 1-2 min over medium heat.
2. As it starts to sizzle, pour in the wine and stir again until the wine has been absorbed.
3. Start to stir in the stock - 1.5 ladlefuls at the time so it simmers and is absorbed after each addition. Keep stirring the whole time, to keep the risotto creamy. Continue adding the stock as above - after 20min the rice should be soft with a bit of chew in the middle - you should have a ladleful of stock left at this point.
4. Take the pan off the heat. Season with pepper (shouldn't need any salt). Pour over the remaining ladleful of the remaining stock to keep the mixture fluid, then scatter over all the vegetables (1+2 from preparations), half the herb mix (3) and half of the cheese. Stir together, then cover with the pan lid and let the risotto sit for 3-4min to rest.
5. Serve topped with a small pile of rocket and the rest of herbs and cheese scattered over.
This recipe comes from the April issue of 'Good Food' magazine - from the 'make it healthier' section. I must admit I preferred it over the heavy-on-butter-and-cheese alternative. In general, all risottos take a while and lots of stirring, but the result is a very richly flavored dish, that tastes just like the first days of spring. The lemon zest should, ideally, give just a discreet hint of fresh lemons, adding richness to the flavor texture without dominating the dish.