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Spring Vegetable Risotto

Many cooks are reluctant to make risotto at home because they believe it needs constant stirring. But in reality, the cook can be a bit more relaxed. As long as you pay attention to the amount of liquid and stir every few minutes, the results will be just as good.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups frozen baby peas
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh mint
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the risotto
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth and wine to a gentle simmer, then maintain the simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until all the grains are opaque and well coated with the fat, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the simmering broth mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to add the liquid about 1 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and adding more only after the previous addition has been absorbed.

Sauté the vegetables
While the rice is cooking, in a fry pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the zucchini and sauté just until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook, stirring, until thawed and heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Finish the risotto
When the rice is tender and creamy but the grains are still al dente at the center, after about 22 minutes, stir in the sautéed vegetables and the mint and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, divide among shallow bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Weeknight, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2006).