Spring Green Risotto

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 850g chopped leeks
  • 450g chopped fennel
  • 450g Arborio rice
  • 140ml dry white wine
  • 1.1 litres simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 450g thin asparagus
  • 280g frozen peas, defrosted, or 225g shelled fresh peas
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 60g mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
1) Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute 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, two 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.



2) Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 4cm lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)



3) 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.



4) 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 parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more parmesan cheese.

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