After what felt like the longest winter ever, I am so happy for spring is just around the corner. While I definitely didn’t have as harsh of a winter compared to my friends on the east coast, December through February were the coldest months this Californian has felt in a while. That a being said, the farmers markets are open for business, which means lots of fresh produce & new recipes to try. One recipe I’ve made a few times in the last couple weeks is Spring Risotto.
Spring Risotto will transition your tastebuds to spring with just one bite. The farm fresh asparagus, peas, and lemon zest will brighten your palette and have you craving warmer weather & more risotto in no time at all. While risotto is often somewhat heavy and filling, this risotto is a perfect blend of cheesy, creamy, and zesty thanks to the fresh lemon juice.
This risotto achieves its creamy consistency thanks to the arborio rice’s natural starch and the addition of softened mascarpone. The mascarpone gives the risotto movement and a cheesy flavor. The cheesiness is balanced with earthy saffron and bright spring vegetables.
Risotto can often be intimidating to make since it requires quite a bit of stirring, but it really isn’t something to be scared of. Aside from stirring the rice so it absorbs the stock, the second most difficult part is having to be patient and not burning your tongue when you want to taste-test while cooking.
This Spring Risotto is a perfect addition to your dinner rotation and is elevated enough for a spring lunch or Easter.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp European butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp saffron
5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 1/2 cups), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups peas
2/3 cup parmigiano reggiano, plus more for serving
1/2 cup mascarpone, softened
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp chives, chopped
Heat the butter and olive oil in a 5 qt dutch oven or braiser on medium heat. Add shallot and stir until translucent and softened, but not caramelized, about 2-3 minutes.
Add arborio rice and stir until completely coated in butter and olive oil. Cook for one minute without browning the rice.
Add wine and stir until fully absorbed. Once absorbed, add saffron and stock and stir until absorbed. Continue this process one ladle at a time until all the stock is added, after about 20-30 minutes. Once the stock is added, the rice will be tender, but al dente.
Immediately after adding the final ladle of stock, blanch asparagus in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Turn the heat to low and fold in mascarpone, cheese, and lemon zest in the rice until well mixed. Add the lemon juice, asparagus, peas, and salt and pepper to taste, and fold in the ingredients until homogeneous. Remove from heat, garnish with chives & cheese, and serve immediately.