Risotto can seem intimidating, but with a little attention to a few simple steps, it is easily mastered. The ultimate Italian comfort food, risotto is rich and creamy and fun to make on a lazy day while sipping a crisp glass of wine (or two). There are countless renditions of the Italian arborio rice classic; this one celebrates the coming of spring with the addition of fresh green vegetables. Serves 4.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp butter, divided
1½ cups finely chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
32 oz simmering chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup broccoli, small dice
¾ cup thin asparagus, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
1. Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add rice and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Stir in about 1 cup of stock. When liquid is absorbed, add another ½ cup. Continue this process until all the stock is used. This will take about 25 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir frequently.
3. Meanwhile, prepare broccoli and asparagus. Blanch them until al dente in boiling, salted water. Put the broccoli in first and then the asparagus 2 minutes later (broccoli will need about 4 minutes, asparagus only 2). Drain with cold water and set aside.
4. When adding the final ½ cup of stock, add the broccoli, asparagus, peas, and salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon is recommended). When liquid is absorbed, add the remaining butter (1 tablespoon) and Parmesan. Remove from heat. Stir for about 1 minute and serve.
PRO TIP: Rice Balls (Arancini)
Leftover risotto makes the best rice balls! Combine 1 cup of cold risotto with ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and 1 egg. Cut 2 ounces of mozzarella into 20 small cubes and, using your hands, completely surround each cube with the risotto mixture. Roll the balls in about ½ cup breadcrumbs and refrigerate for at least an hour. Using vegetable oil, deep fry the rice balls in batches on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Dry on paper towels and serve.
Makes 20 small rice balls.