Monday, March 21, 2011

A first day of spring risotto


As the weather does finally seem to have turned the corner, and today being the first official day of the new season, I think we're finally done with red meat stews for a while, and it is now time to lighten the fridge up a little. This is not a particularly authentic risotto in the true sense, as its low on rice and high on vegetables, but that is just the point of the 'spring' bit. If any of the vegetables prove elusive you can double up on your favourite or substitute young broad beans (my favourite)


1 bunch asparagus
2 red onions
2 pints (just over 1 litre) water
6oz/200g sprouting broccoli
3 tblsp olive oil for cooking
½ tsp salt
5oz/150g risotto rice
½ glass (4fl oz/125ml) white wine
1 tsp tomato purée
6oz/200g garden peas
2oz/50g cold butter
2oz/50g freshly grated Parmesan
Salt to taste
Handful chopped mint or basil


Peel and dice the onions. Reserve the skins, tops and tails. Trim the asparagus
and chop finely, reserving the woody ends of the stems and any peelings. Add the onion skins and asparagus trimmings to the water and simmer for 20 minutes.


Strain and return to the heat so that it simmers next to your risotto pan.
Trim the broccoli and chop the tender part of the stem and florets finely. Set
aside with the asparagus. Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed pan and add the
onions and salt. Stir, reduce the heat and cover. Sweat for 10-15 minutes,
checking to make sure the onions don’t catch.


Turn up the heat and add the rice. Stir it through and add the wine. Let it bubble
and reduce by half, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tomato
purée, asparagus, broccoli and peas. Add just enough stock to cover everything.
Cook, stirring gently, until all the stock has been absorbed. Add just enough
stock to cover again, and repeat the process.


When this stock has been absorbed remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the
butter and cheese and cover. Let it rest for five minutes, then season, add the
herbs and serve. Contrary to popular myth it isn’t necessary to douse a risotto
like this with more cheese at the table if you've added the right amount in the kitchen.