Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Spring is in the air…and in my kitchen March 24, 2010

Filed under: dinner — freerangenurse @ 4:36 pm

I love the spring.  Seeing the blossoms on my pear trees, finding fresh ripe (in season) berries in my grocery store, having spring wildflowers lining the highways and feeling the sun upon my face (Stacy, that one is for you!).  I just can’t help but feel reborn a little.  There’s a little more pep in my step, the feeling that I will stop squandering time and start accomplishing the things I’ve got piled on my to do lists.  Okay, that last bit rarely ever happens, but my point is spring is a renewal, a time of hope and promise…and a time for fresh spring veggies.

This recipe for risotto is a perfect celebration of spring.  Tender, flavorful Arborio rice, slightly sweet, crisp vegetables and a creamy taste that makes it spring comfort food.  It’s a hug and a warm smile.  I love it and I hope you will, too.

Spring Green Risotto

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics cookbook

  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
  • 1/2 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4-5 cups simmering chicken stock
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (or 1 10-ounce bag of frozen peas)
  • 1 T freshly grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 3 T minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and shallots and saute fro 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.  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 25-30 minutes (It took nearly an hour in my kitchen). Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard tough ends.  Blanch in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until al dente.  Drain and col immediately in ice water.  Blanch peas in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone (no need to do this if you are using frozen peas).

Once you have used about 3/4 of the broth, 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.

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