There is something very comforting about making risotto I am finding – almost therapeutic as Ina Garten suggests in her taping of this particular episode. And for me it can be the entire meal for the evening. While this is meant to be a meal with spring vegetables (asparagus), I went ahead and made it to see how well it tasted even if those fresh spring ingredients aren’t available. And I most certainly wasn’t disappointed. The rich creaminess of the risotto is balanced beautifully with the fresh lemon flavor that lightens the dish just as much as it needs to be. In less than 30-40 minutes you will have a meal that will be filling and perfect to be paired with a glass of white wine. Enjoy!
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa recipe) yield – 4 servings
1½ tablespoons good olive oil
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion or 2-3 shallots
1½ cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock=
1 pound thin asparagus (if asparagus isn’t in season, the recipe is just as good without)
10 ounces frozen peas
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions or shallots until tender or translucent. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1½-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)
3. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside off the heat for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.