Spring Vegetable Risotto

Classifying risotto as a quick and easy dish would be a lie. Here is the silver lining though: yes, risotto takes a full 30 minutes of standing over the stove, but it’s not actually a lot of effort, and the end result looks like you slaved in the kitchen for hours- not a measly 30 minutes. So put all your fears aside and just do it, tackle the risotto! Risotto is the chameleon of the kitchen, you can add practically anything to it, you can add any spices, any type of cheese, any kind of broth- it is endlessly adaptable.

My very lovely boyfriend, whom I adore, does not dig on the veggies as much as I would like, so in the past when I have made risotto I have tried to accommodate that. Well, he was out of town, so I went veggie crazy. In fact, while talking to Cat I had to cut down my list of vegetables I intended to put in this. However, that’s the point- you could add pretty much anything, especially the way I prepare it. In this version I made a basic risotto, roasted a few of the veggies and sautéed a few of them; at the end I mixed them all into the creamy risotto and the result was divine. The vegetables each held their own distinct flavor while the silky cheesy risotto brought everything together. Absolutely to die for.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus

1 medium yellow squash

1 small head broccoli

½ lb (about 10) mushrooms of your choice

1 jar quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained

½ large yellow onion, diced

3 Tbs olive oil, divided

1 Tbs butter

Salt/pepper/spice blend to taste

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

6-8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Chop the broccoli into small florets. Slice and cube the squash. Cut off the bottom of the asparagus and discard, slice the remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces. In a large roasting pan (or glass baking dish) add the broccoli, squash, and asparagus. Toss with 1 Tbs olive oil, salt, pepper, or spice blend of choice*. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms and drain artichokes. Place in a medium skillet with 1 Tbs (about) olive oil and set on a back burner.

In a medium sauce pan, warm the stock to a simmer. In a cast iron enameled dutch oven (or pot of similar size) add 1 Tbs olive oil, sauté the diced onion until soft. Add 1 Tbs butter, when the butter is melted, add the rice. Lightly toast the rice while stirring for about 1 minute. Adjust the heat to medium, and add ¾ cup wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Put the vegetables into the oven, and begin to sauté the mushrooms and artichokes over medium heat. The vegetables will take about 30 minutes to roast while you make the risotto. Once the mushrooms and artichokes are done, keep them warm until the risotto is done.

Over the next 20 to 30 minutes, add the warm broth one cup at a time, allowing each cup to be fully absorbed by the rice before the next addition. It will take approximately 6-8 cups; you will know it’s done when the rice is cooked. Remove from heat and stir in ¾ cup parmesan cheese.

Stir in all the vegetables and serve immediately.

A few notes:

-You could make this with almost any vegetable. Some other suggestions would be: peas, butternut squash, zucchini, roasted cauliflower, carrots or any other vegetables you like.

-This would also be delightful with a bit of goat cheese. You could use ½ cup parmesan and ½ cup goat cheese, or you could prepare as above and add crumbled goat cheese as a topping.

– To make this vegetarian you can absolutely use vegetable broth. I think chicken broth adds more depth of flavor, but whatever you prefer is fine.

– I used my go to spice blend, garlic and herb blend from Frontier Spices. You can use whatever spices you like, or just salt and pepper.

– The wine is optional, it adds a nice additional flavor, but if don’t have wine, or don’t drink wine, you can omit this and still have a delicious risotto.

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