Summer Lemon-Vegetable Risotto

To me, risotto is one of the most sublime dishes on earth that one can eat. Creamy, rich and decadent, it is definitely comfort food at its finest. The summer vegetables and lemon make this risotto taste a bit lighter and brighter than others, but still retains a creamy and delicious flavor. Risotto is not difficult to make, but it is time consuming. It is an Italian rice specialty made by slowly incorporating hot stock ½ cup at a time into the rice mixture until each batch of liquid is absorbed. This technique results in rice that is delectably creamy while each grain remains separate and firm. One of my favorites is mushroom risotto which I am excited to post later on when the weather turns cold. Serve with a light salad, crusty Italian bread and the white wine that was used in the recipe.

adapted from: Cooking Light (June 2011)
serves: 4

8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 ¾ cups vegetable broth
½ cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice*
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated fresh pecorino Romano, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the asparagus and peas and cook for 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and cook zucchini and squash for about 7 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Keep warm over low heat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook until liquid is absorbed (about 30 seconds), stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Reserve ¼ cup broth and set aside. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Stir in vegetables; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in reserved ¼ cup broth and remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

* Arborio rice- The high starch kernels of this Italian-grown grain are shorter and fatter than any other short-grain rice. Arborio is typically used for risotto because its increased starch lends this classic dish its requisite creamy texture. –Food Lover’s Companion

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