One of the things that has come out of our participation in CSAs is the need for some stand-by recipes. You know, a recipe that you can make using a larger selection of ingredients, swapping out what’s seasonal (or about to go liquid in the bottom of the crisper drawer). A “finishing” technique. The hubby is all about finishing, and I’ve been happy to adapt to that mentality, especially when spending big money on organic produce and meat (and booze, which is not organic but is always a shame to waste).
Risotto. I f’ing love risotto. And despite its reputation, I find it incredibly easy to make. This is no Italian grandma recipe, but it’s a great weeknight one pot meal that can use up really any random veggie you have on hand. I’ve also made it with meat but that’s not really my favorite.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken broth (can be replaced with water or any other broth you like – shrimp broth made from leftover shells is especially nice if using peas)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth (or dry white wine or filtered sake or omit)
- 1 1/2 cups veggies (3/4 cup prepared favas, and 3/4 cup chopped zucchini)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: 1 Tbs cold butter, 1 Tbs olive oil, or 1/4 cup grated parmesan/pecorino (watch the salt if you use cheese)
Start by heating your broth/water to a simmer. You don’t want the multiple additions of liquid to slow your cooking process at all.
Put a large skillet over medium heat; once warm, add 1 tsp olive oil and your zucchini, seasoning with salt and pepper and sauteing until just cooked.
Put zucchini in a bowl to the side and bring your pan back up to heat. Add 1 Tbs olive oil and the onions (seasoned with a touch of salt); saute until translucent. Make sure there is still some olive oil in the pan or add a little bit more, and then add your rice. Stir the rice with the onions and oil for about a minute, toasting the rice a bit. You’ll know it’s ready for the next step when the rice is a bit translucent around the edges:
Add your vermouth, if using, and stir until absorbed.
Now you are going to start the longer process of adding your broth in batches. This freaks people out. Don’t worry – you can’t really screw it up. I use a soup ladle that I think is about 3/4 of a cup? I guess I could measure it, but I never have. I start with 2 ladles of broth and stir that into the rice. Then I leave it alone until the broth has been mostly absorbed. This is where my recipe is not like an Italian grandma – she’d have you stirring constantly. Whatever. I’m busy shelling fava beans over here. It is important that you let the risotto dry out between liquid additions; this is part of what gives it that creamy quality.
When you can draw your spoon across the pan and the rice stays still, it’s time for the next addition (I typically do a ladle-full at a time):
When you have about a ladle full of broth left, it’s time to add your veg in with the last batch of broth:
Stir in until veggies are just warmed, pull off the heat and add the butter/oil/cheese if using. I used a Tbs of cold butter this time but am just as likely to skip it altogether. Check seasoning and serve with fresh pepper.
Once you’ve made this recipe a few times, you may discover that you like a little bit more broth or a little less. You may discover you want to use less veg. Totally your call.
I timed this last time I made it and it took 45 minutes from start to finish, but I don’t pre-prepare ingredients, so I was busy preparing the favas while the broth heated and chopping onions while the zucchini was sauteing. If you are un-comfortable doing it this way, you may have time in between steps to make yourself a beverage. I advise you to take advantage of that. After all – you’ve had a long day.
If you have leftovers, try making risotto cakes:
Add a raw egg to your leftovers (I had 2 servings left) and then gently coat scoops of the mixture in seasoned breadcrumbs. Fry in a little oil until brown on both sides, and enjoy with a side salad!