Spring Vegetable Risotto

Like the good Catholic girl I am, I went to a steakhouse last night, on a Friday during Lent. However, I did not eat dessert, which I gave up for Lent, even though it came with my prix-fix dinner. We ordered asparagus as a side dish to our steaks, and it made me excited that spring vegetables are just around the corner. I’ve had this recipe since the dawning of the internet (well may be a little later than that) so I don’t know where I got it from. However, I make it every spring when leeks and asparagus come into season.

  • 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley leaves, stems reserved
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced mint leaves, stems reserved
  • 1/2 tsp fine lemon zest
  • 1 lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on a bias into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and green parts sliced thin (about 4 cups) leaves roughly chopped and reserved
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2 inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as must water as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan, cove and set over low heat to keep warm.

Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large Dutch Oven, over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, 4-6 minutes. Add peas and continute to cook for 1 minute. Transfer to plate and set aside.

Melt 3 tbsp butter in now empty Dutch oven, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4-5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently until fully absorbed, 2-3 minutes.

When wine is fully absorbed, add three cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3-4 minutes, until liquid is fully absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly until fully absorbed, about 3 minutes each time, until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tbsp of butter, Parmesan, lemon juice, and gently fold in asparagus and peas. Serve immediately, sprinking each serving with gremolata and Parmesan.

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