This is a perfect Spring dish, especially if you have fresh peas, asparagus and chives. I can lay claim only to the chives from my herb garden. It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday and thanks goes to Kimberly of Indulge & Enjoy for choosing this recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook. Risottos are so versatile and I love the flavor combination in this version. It is full of leeks, fennel, the spring vegetables and a wonderful creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese and lemon. Risotto is inherently creamy so the mascarpone is just guilding the lily, but in a good way. It does require attention though, so be prepared to spend time at the stove stirring. It is very much worth it.
SPRING GREEN RISOTTO
1/1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts ( 2 leeks )
1 cup choppped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh 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
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 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 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2 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.)
When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teasoons 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.