In Good Season: Usher in Season with Spring Risotto



You may have spotted the first spring warbler, the first snow drop or crocus in bloom, but I know it’s spring when the food magazines start chatting about recipes with primavera or printemps attached to their titles.

This is the time I start to pay attention to promises that it “takes only 20 minutes to prepare,” or “make ahead, reheat when you’re ready.”

 

This doesn’t mean putting meals in the microwave — it means real cooking on a real stove, but in a short amount of time. Some of the best dishes are the simplest ones, and often the most effortless; there are no challenging procedures, and no hard-to-find ingredients.

A perfect example is this main course with grains, protein and a vegetable, all in one elegant dish. You can stir the rice and talk to guests in the kitchen at the same time.


Spring Risotto with Asparagus & Scallops

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed, 2-inch pieces
  • ½ pound scallops, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan

Heat the broth to boiling. In a separate, heavy-bottomed 2½- quart saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and cook over low heat until the onion is soft. While this is cooking, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a skillet and cook the asparagus for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove, drain, and keep warm. Poach the scallops in lightly salted water at a simmer for 1 minute. Remove, drain and keep warm.

Now, add the arborio rice to the saucepan with the cooked onion and stir until the rice is covered with butter. It will turn opaque in about 3 minutes. Add the wine to the rice and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Add ½ cup of the hot broth (or just enough to cover the rice) and continue stirring while it cooks enough to absorb the liquid. Continue to add the broth a half cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender — 20 to 25 minutes. The grains of rice will be a little firm in the center but softer on the outside.

When the rice is done, season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the cream and the cheese and about 1/3 cup of the broth so the risotto is creamy and light, not dry and stiff. Add the hot asparagus pieces and the scallops just before serving.

Yield: as a main course.

 

With the risotto, you might consider a salad — a Caesar-like combination of Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, store-bought croutons and cheese — either grated Italian Parmesan or crumbled feta or goat cheese. The dressing can be made up to 24 hours ahead, the salad tossed together just before serving.

 

Romaine & Cherry Tomato Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, torn
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ cups croutons
  • Creamy Caesar dressing
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 5 anchovy fillets, rinse, drain, pat dry
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan, crumbled feta, or goat cheese

Purée all dressing ingredients (except the cheese) in a blender. Toss the lettuce, tomatoes, and croutons with the dressing in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve immediately.

 

For more arts & entertainment news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

 

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