It’s a cool day today, perfect for this spring vegetable risotto. The time it took standing over the stove to tend lovingly to the rice was well worth it. The risotto has the crunch of asparagus and the tartness of lemon in it. The gremolata was refreshing–I could taste the mint, the parsley, and the lemon zest.
Spring Vegetable Risotto (America’s Test Kitchen)
Total prep and cook time: 2 hours
• 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
• 2 medium leeks , white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups),
• 2 cups roughly chopped dark green leek leaves, reserved
• 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable 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
• 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
Make the gremolata: Combine parsley and mint leaves and lemon zest in small bowl. Set aside.
Make the broth for the risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring chopped green leek leaves, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, pressing on the solids to strain as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Cover the strained broth and set the pan over very, very low heat to keep the broth warm.
Cook the asparagus and peas: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts add the sliced asparagus spears, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender and bright green, for about 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute more. Transfer vegetables to a plate and set aside.
Cook the rice (This is the long part):
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks (the white and pale green parts), garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
- When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups of hot broth to the rice in the pot. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
- 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. (Cook’s Note: It took just 3 additions of broth.) Turn off the heat, and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. The consistency will be like a very thick congee. If the risotto is too dry for your taste, add up to 1/4 cup hot broth to loosen the risotto. Serve hot, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground black pepper separately.