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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vegetable Risotto

Growing up in Western New York, I got used to driving everywhere for everything.  My parents home is in the middle of no where (i.e. two miles from the grocery store and five miles from the mall).  I would have to ask for a ride to go anywhere, even school was a really long walk.  I took the walk only a few times, on the last day of school.  I love to walk, bike and occasionally rollerblade places.  (I was a much better rollerblader in my high school days).  Hometown, western New York is not a walkable place.

When I moved to New Haven last year, I was so excited that I could walk to work.  My apartment was right downtown and just under a mile from my lab, I could make the walk in just under twenty minutes.  It was rare that I would drive to work, I even walked in when there was a quarter-inch of ice on the ground.  I soon realized that it had been a few weeks since I had driven my car.

My beautiful, gold, Toyota Matrix.  It was the first car that I bought all on my own.  Granted I had just gotten it two years earlier, but it was a big deal (and an awesome car).  I was sad that I had been neglecting my pretty little Goldie, but you save so much money on gas when you don't drive your car!  When it came time to transfer my insurance over to Connecticut I decided it was time to give Goldie away/return her to the dealership.  On March 18th I dropped Goldie off with a nice man at Toyota, he said he would wash her (something I only ever did once) and find her a new family.

I'm now a commuter, or professional train rider, as I like to call myself.  I miss my little Goldie car, but now I can walk everywhere that I want to go.  And I'm saving major dollars a month, insurance in the Northeast is expensive!

Vegetable Risotto

What does vegetable risotto have to do with not having a car?  Well, I got these vegetables at the Saturday farmers market, right down the street from my house!  This recipe makes a ton of risotto, which is good when you have a boyfriend who loves risotto.  The veggies give it a lot of flavor and the marscapone cheese gives it a creamy texture.  Toss in your favorite vegetables or whatever you happen to find at your farmers market! 

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
3 cups leeks, chopped
1 cup fennel, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1 cup chopped, cooked chicken
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup marscapone cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Heat chicken stock over medium-low heat.  Add leeks and fennel and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.  Add rice and stir to coat.

Add chicken broth to the rice, 2 ladles at a time, stirring continuously.  Continue adding until the rice is creamy and has absorbed as much broth as it can.  This should take about 20 to 25 minutes.

While you are cooking the rice, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Drain asparagus and chill with ice water.  When the rice has five minutes left, add asparagus, peas, chicken, salt, pepper and lemon zest.  Stir continuously until the rice is tender.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and marscapone cheese.  Add the contents of the saucepan and parmesan cheese to the marscapone cheese and lemon juice.  Stir to combine all of the ingredients.  Serve with extra parmesan cheese!
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