I said it in my last post and I'll say it again - even when it's getting lovely out in Seattle in the Spring, it's still cold and I still need my comfort food. This is the time when I start making adjustments to many of my Winter favorites so that they're lighter, but hearty enough to satisfy after a day of gardening in the drizzle. I always make risotto the same way (my mom taught me and I think she learned it from Marcella Hazan's book, so I'm not fooling with it). If you have argula or sorel around instead of spinach, or different herbs, maybe a little white wine even, it's an endlessly flexible meal. Just keep the basics the same - 2 cups of rice, 6 to 8 cups of liquid, onion, flavorings, butter, Parm. I made a step-by-step instructable for a slightly different risotto, if you feel like you want a little more instruction.
Spring Lemon & Herb Risotto
serves at least 6, but it works well to cut this recipe in half
2 to 3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c Arborio Rice, or short-grain sushi rice in a pinch
7 c chicken stock, simmering
1 large lemon
3 T mixed fresh herbs (I used oregano, thyme, and chives)
2 large handfuls baby spinach
1 T butter
1/2 c Parmesan plus more for garnish
- In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the onions and saute until they are starting to become translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 5 minutes more. If things start to brown, turn down the heat a bit and move on to the next step. For the record, risotto doesn't traditionally have garlic, but I like it.
- Add the rice to the pot and saute until you see one or two grains start to brown. If you don't see that, just saute for 5 minutes and move on. This is a great time to twist in a little pepper, but not salt (it will make the rice tough).
- Add 2 cups of stock to get started and stir well. Adjust the heat so that the rice is bubbling, but not furiously boiling. You should be able to walk away and just give it a stir every 2 or 3 minutes.
- Now you'll add the stock in 1 cup batches when the liquid has mostly cooked off, but the rice isn't sticking to the pan (every 5 minutes or so). I think this is the intimidating part, but you can't really mess it up unless you let it stick and burn. For the first couple of additions you should be able to see the bottom of the pot when it's time to add more.
- While the risotto is going, chop all your herbs and spinach and squeeze the lemon.
- Before adding the last cup of stock, give the risotto a taste. It should be creamy and thick and the rice should be almost cooked, but not mushy. You should be able to eat it with a fork. Sometimes I don't need the last cup, sometimes I need 1 cup extra.
- With the last cup of stock, add the spinach, herbs, lemon, butter, and about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously.
- Serve with a sprinkle of Parm and a little more herbs if you'd like.