Monday, March 26, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Spring Vegetable Risotto


Spring is here!  In case you haven't noticed, I cook by season.  I started my blog back at the end of August, so we worked our way through the comforts of soups, stews, chilis and casseroles.  We entered into winter with the slow cooker buzzin' almost every night.  Now though, it's spring.  The food needs to be fresh, light, and simple.  The nice thing about my risottos are that they transition well too.  By taking the same method I always use and mixing and matching the ingredients with fresh, seasonal veggies, you get something completely different and very appropriate for the warmer days of spring.  Enjoy!


Shopping List
1 cup Arborio rice
2 quarts chicken stock (not broth, stock...use veggie stock if you're making this a vegetarian dish)
2 zucchini, chopped
10 pieces asparagus, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
3-6 (depending on your love for garlic) chopped garlic cloves
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and Salt and Pepper, of course!
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken, optional (see below for more details!)


This meal should take you about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Relax...risotto is a cinch!


In a large stock pot, bring chicken stock up to low simmer (not boiling, just a simmer...keep a lid on it to trap liquid inside).

In a separate pan, melt butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, add in zucchini and asparagus and saute 4-5 minutes.  Remove veggies from pan, cover and set aside.  Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook 4-5 minutes.  Stir in rice for another minute.

At this point, take a ladle and add 1 cup of your hot stock to the rice.  Stir constantly for a minute or so.  As the liquid evaporates, the rice will become super starchy and delicious.  Stir pretty often, adding stock every time the majority of the liquid evaporates.  You will continue doing this for about 18 minutes.  Add stock, stir, wait for it to evaporate and add more.  This will cause the risotto to fluff up and look creamy (without using any cream!)  A lot of recipes will tell you to stir continuously...but you don't need to.  Just stir it around every few minutes and you'll be fine.

After the rice is tender (take a bite!), stir in frozen peas, zucchini and asparagus, and chicken and continue cooking another 3-4 minutes.  Stir in cheese, season with lots of salt and pepper to taste.  



That's it!!
Ok...so the chicken...you don't have to include chicken in this recipe.  This would be a nice side dish to a piece of fish or steak or a great vegetarian dinner.  However, I love the chicken in the risotto...wrapped up in all the cheesy goodness, so I add it right in.  You can buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred that right in, you can use leftover chicken from a previous supper, you can bake off some chicken in the oven, chop it up and add it in or you can do what I do...poach up some chicken in the slow cooker, shred it right up and toss that in.  If you're using the slow cooker method, just add chicken breasts in the slow cooker with about 3-4 cups of chicken stock, cook on low 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours.
Dinner is done!

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