It’s Easter weekend, and while that immediately brings to mind thoughts of chocolate, it also, to me, symbolizes everything green. My chives are starting to poke up, and here in Vancouver, we have crocuses, daffodils, and even cherry blossoms. Spring is here. We made it through another long, dark, rainy winter, and that’s cause for celebration.
This risotto is packed with everything green and fresh and seasonal: asparagus, peas, leeks and parsley. It’s light and yummy.
Many people are afraid of risotto because it’s a lot of work. It’s not really that bad. I’m not a pro, and my version would probably get me eliminated off of Top Chef (then again, that’s par for the course), but I’ve been doing it long enough that I have my own method that works really well for me.
Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
- 6 cups vegetable stock (I make my own, but I keep bouillon around in case I run out)
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter
- 1 leek
- 1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut on the diagonal in 1-2″ pieces
- a handful of sugar snap peas, also cut on the diagonal (or substitute frozen shelled peas if you have them)
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tbsps–1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 tbsps parsley or other green herb like basil or Italian parsley
- cooked shrimp for garnish (leave off if you want it vegetarian)
- In a small saucepan on the back of the stove, heat the stock to boiling, and then turn it down to a simmer. It’s important not to add cold stock to the risotto once it starts cooking.
- Prepare the leek by topping and tailing it, and removing a couple of the outer leaves. Cut the leek length-wise down the centre, and wash between all the layers to get any dirt out. Then lay the leek, cut-side down on your cutting board, and cut it up.
- In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and butter to a low-to-medium heat, and allow the butter to melt. Add the leek, season, and stir for about five minutes, until it begins to soften.
- Next, add the rice, stir, and allow the rice to all become coated with oil. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, then add the wine.
- Using a soup ladle, pour a couple of ladle fulls of hot stock over your risotto. It should cover the rice. Stir well. You don’t have to constantly stir during this process, but do watch it carefully so that it doesn’t dry out. Whenever the stock boils down, add another ladle or two from your hot stock.
- While your risotto is doing its thing, heat a small frying pan on high heat and add some olive oil. Quickly stir-fry the vegetables for a few minutes. You want them to be lightly caramelized, but not fully cooked. Err on the side of underdone, as they will get cooked a little more inside the risotto.
- When all the stock is added, let it cook down again until it is a loose mixture. You want it to still be a little saucy, you don’t want it to be a porridge consistency. At this point, taste for seasoning and and adjust. Also, make sure that your rice cooked. Some people like theirs al dente, but I like mine cooked all the way through. If your rice is still a bit raw, you’ll need to add more stock.
- Add in the vegetables, half of the cheese, and 1 tbsp of butter. Stir well, remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit on off of the heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir.
- Spoon into dishes, garnish with shrimp (if desired) and a snow of freshly-grated Parmesan.