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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cooking for the Soul: Spring Risotto

Have you ever had a really good risotto? I mean one that’s creamy and slightly chewy and where the flavours mingle perfectly with no one flavour outdoing another?

I love a good risotto. Some people are scared of them because they seem so labour intensive. And I suppose in some ways, they are. But they are truly a labour of love. Yes, you have to stir it constantly, BUT, if you prep all your ingredients first, adding them is a snap and you won’t risk burning your beautiful creation.

Some notes:

-Risotto is a delicate dish. It works best when all the flavours balance each other. You can put almost anything into it but be careful not to go overboard. You want each bite to contain all the flavours you put into it.

-Cooking the rice first allows the rice to absob the liquid properly.

-When buying asparagus, especially for this dish, go for the ones that are thinner. The thicker stalks are older and therefore woodier and tough. Go for the bunch with the fewest thick stems.

-Please, please, please DO NOT substitute margarine for the butter. A quarter cup is not very much when distributed throughout the dish and will add so much flavour that margarine just can’t do.

-For a purely vegetarian dish, omit the shrimp, since the mushrooms will serve as your protein.
For an earthy layer of flavour, try reconstituting wild mushrooms like crimini or porcini and adding them near the beginning. You can substitute the reconstitution liquid for some of the chicken stock.

Okay, let’s begin…


2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup shallots or 1/2 cup onions (shallots are stronger)
½ sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange work best)
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1- 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped into small chunks
200 g (or a little less than 1/2 lb.) cooked baby shrimp
1 tbsp. lemon zest
juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup butter
¼-1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


1. In a pot, combine stock and wine and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat. Transfer to pourable container (like a glass measuring cup) if desired. You can also use a ladle to add the liquid.

2. Heat olive oil in medium sized pot.

3. Add arborio rice. Stirring constantly, cook until transluscent (about 5 minutes).

4. Add garlic, shallots (or onion) and peppers, stirring constantly. Cook for a couple of minutes and addasparagus, mushrooms and lemon zest.

5. Add some liquid to the pot. 1/2 to 3/4 cup in the first batch will get you started.

6. Stir constantly and slowly until most of the liquid is absorbed.

7. Add more liquid and keep sitrring. Continue to add liquid in batches.

8. Add shrimp near the end, probably when you add the last batch of liquid. The rice will be done when it's slightly chewy but not crunchy!

9. Add lemon juice, butter and parmenson cheese. Serve with a slice of parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 4.

There are so many ways you can change this up. Have fun, be creative and dig in! Yum!

Don't forget to hop on over the Mel's to see what's cooking up with the rest of the class...


WiseGuy said...

I have never tasted Risotto ever...looks yum...will definetely try it when I get the chance to....

Lori said...

Well, you have just set my salivary glands on HIGH volume.

Can't I just come over for some of YOURS rather than make some of my OWN?

jill said...

MMMmm that sounds delicious! I love risotto but have never made it before. I think I'll have to give it a try now!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

mmmm love risotto! I'm going to have to try your recipe!

Beautiful Mess said...

Show and Tell this week is just full of yummy foods! Your Risotto looks SO delicious!

Cara said...

So - Risotto is one of my FAVORITE dishes ever. (I'm 100% italian you know)

I make an ok risotto, but the italian resturant I worked at made the BEST one ever with all the veggies, chicken and truffle oil!!!

'Murgdan' said...

That looks delicious...and I think just made it onto my weekly menu!

one-hit_wonder said...

I love risotto but have never made it myself - I'll have to try it one day. Yours looks amazing.

Cassandra said...

Usually I don't like risotto, but when it's good, it's so good!

Candice said...

That looks yummy! Wish I had some.

cysteract said...

I LOVE risotto its one of my favorite things - will definatly be giving this a try.

Thanks !