When life gives you lemons, why not make risotto?
Like I mentioned in a recent post, certain dishes refer to a cooking method or technique rather than an actual dish. Such is the way with risotto. Basically, with a risotto you sauté some aromatics, lightly toast a grain (most often rice) and slowly stir in a hot liquid until the grain is cooked and the entire dish is creamy. Here’s my version for spring!
- 3 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 3 large leeks, prepared (see tutorial here)
- 16 oz. Arborio rice
- 1 – 2 cups dry white wine, like Chardonnay
- 5 – 6 cups low- or no-sodium vegetable stock
- leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 – 2 tsp lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 bag frozen peas (or 2 cups fresh)
You may have noticed lots of ranges on the ingredient list, which is one reason I love risotto. It’s so flexible.
Well, it’s sort of flexible. Ingredients, yes. However, once you start it, commit yourself to the stove for a good 30 minutes because you really can’t stop stirring it.
- Warm stock on a back burner and set a ladle beside the stove. Taste your stock to make sure it is yummy and not too salty–if it’s no good, start over with a different stock. It makes ALL the difference in the world.
- Heat oil of your preference in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Sauté leeks until tender but not browned in the slightest (about 5-10 minutes). Don’t walk away from them.
- Add rice to leeks and sauté about 3-5 minutes, adding a Tbsp or two more oil if things start to brown.
- Add the thyme leaves and 1/2 of the lemon zest. You can always add more later if you want.
- Dump in wine all at once and stir to get everything lubed up. If wine isn’t your thing, just use some extra stock.
- Keep stirring and once the liquid has mostly cooked off and things start to stick to the pan, add a ladle or two of stock.
- Keep cooking off the liquid while stirring until things stick again, then add more stock. Keep stirring.
- Keep doing this for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. How do you know? Taste it and chew it. It should be tender but not mushy.
- Once you’re at this point take the pan off the heat, add the butter and cheese and stir like there’s no tomorrow until the butter is melted.
- Once the butter is melted, add the peas and gently fold in.
Generally, I like to serve risotto with a whole-grain crusty bread to have contrasting textures.
Play with the ingredients and find a risotto that works well for you. Then, tell me about it.