For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, I've confessed on many occasions that I'm obsessed with cookbooks. I can sit for hours reading recipes, looking at beautiful photos, and dreaming of how to improve my food styling skills. Barefoot Contessa's (Ina Garten) cookbooks are among my favorites. I adore not only her cookbooks, but also her show on Food Network. She makes one feel that they can create as beautifully as she does, with her simplistic explanations; yet, creations that are consistently lovely and sophisticated. Cooking aside, I can't get enough of her and Jeffrey's genuine, sweet, flirtatious kindness for one another.
Spring Green Risotto is one of my many favorites of Ina's. When I first discovered this recipe, it was the mascarpone incorporated in it, that jumped out at me. New to mascarpone in risotto, I thought how perfectly creamy it would make it, and it does not disappoint! Lemon juice and zest balance the mascarpone nicely, so no need to think the mascarpone will diminish any of the risotto's savory flavor.
A beautiful, spring green color palette of vegetables highlight this delicious risotto. Each vegetable's complex flavor compliments the other, to superbly come together and create one of the most delightful risottos you'll ever taste! Spring Green Risotto's versatility makes it divine as a vegetarian dinner entrée, but just as wonderful as a side next to your favorite fish, meat or poultry. Should I mention how marvelous it would be added to your Easter menu - instead of the normal scalloped potatoes?! :)
Wishing all my readers a beautiful weekend, and a Happy Easter!
Until next time...mangia! xox
Barefoot Contessa's Spring Green Mascarpone Risotto
servings: 4 dinner or 6 appetizer/sides
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
1 1/2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 - 3 leeks depending on size)
1 cup chopped fennel (video on how to prepare fennel in Carol's notes)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 - 5 cups simmering chicken stock
1 pound thin asparagus (cut diagonally in 1-1/2 inch lengths - discard the tough ends)
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted (see cook's tip about peas in Carol's notes)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
Create the Spring Green Mascarpone Risotto:
Heat the evoo and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanch the cut asparagus in boiling, salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water.
When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture, plus the parmigiano-reggiano and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and parmigiano-reggiano.
Here is an excellent, short video from myrecipes.com on how to prepare fennel. This isn't a commonly used everyday vegetable, so thought it would be helpful to see how simple it is to do. You will need to go one step further and chop the fennel after it is sliced in the video. Be sure to save your fronds for garnish! The video is located here.
Did you know fresh peas flavor deteriorates in only one day after picking? So unless you are using them in 24 hours, a better choice is to use frozen peas in recipes. -A great cook's tip from America's Test Kitchen.