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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer Vegetable Risotto

With summer vegetables appearing in the farmers' markets, a vegetable risotto is a perfect way to feature the bounty of the garden.

This past Sunday at the Palisades Farmers' Market, we picked up several ears of fresh corn and some baby zucchini. We also bought carrots, spinach, Italian parsley, scallions, green garlic, squash, asparagus, English peas, spinach, and broccoli, any of which would be good in the risotto.

To make risotto requires a variety of rice--Carnaroli, Violone or Arborio-- with a high starch content, the source of risotto's distinctive creamy quality.

For the liquid, you have a lot of choices: vegetable, chicken, meat, or fish stock, wine, even water with a pat of butter added for flavor. You'll achieve the best results if you use homemade stock with its fresher taste and lower sodium content.

Risotto likes a steady hand, stirring frequently for 18-20 minutes. Because the rice both releases starches into and absorbs the stock, there is a window of a few minutes when the rice is simultaneously al dente and the broth creamy. Past that point, the grains bond together, becoming gummy like porridge, which still tastes good but isn't risotto.

Those last moments are crucial and the rice wants all your attention. Whatever you want to add to the risotto should either cook in a few minutes like spinach or be prepared ahead and added in those last moments.

Serve immediately because the rice will keep absorbing the broth even after you've removed the risotto from the stove.

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 large tomato, washed
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels removed
4 baby zucchini, washed, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto
3 1/2 cups homemade stock, vegetable, chicken, fish, meat, or wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sweet butter (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the stem part of the tomato. Put the tomato on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove, let cool to the touch, peel off the skin and discard, tear apart and reserve the pulp and juice in a bowl. The tomato can be roasted ahead and frozen. That way it is ready and waiting whenever you need it to spice up a sauce or stew or, in this case, a risotto.

Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan. On a medium flame, saute the onions, garlic, and corn kernels until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Drizzle the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, season with sea salt and pepper, add the rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of stock. The stock will deglaze the pan, adding the caramelized flavors of the vegetables to the rice.

Continue stirring. Add another 1/2 cup of stock as the rice absorbs the stock. Continue adding a 1/2 cup of stock at a time, stirring, and adding more stock. Do this for 18-20 minutes until the rice is al dente.

When the rice is almost cooked, add back the sauteed vegetables and roasted tomato pulp. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Variations

To the saute add 4 mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, dried, thinly sliced

To the saute add 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Add 1 cup grilled chicken breast, cut into small pieces

Add 1 cup asparagus cut into 1/2" pieces to the saute

Add 1 cup grilled Italian sausage, cut into small pieces

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

I'm trying this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!