I’m late, late, late on this posting, so let’s jump to it. This month’s Gutsy Cook is Marie from Weekend Viands. She decided that all of her recipes would be coming from the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.
Speaks right to my Italian roots and I was super excited with her choices. This past weekend it was the risotto. I have made it before, my first try was for the Daring Cooks Challenge and I wrote all about it here. The second time was with this choice which, ironically was also a Gutsy Cook club choice.
Risotto is one of those meals that people think is super complicated, but in reality is not. The trick is to take your time, stir and in no time you will have this creamy rice creation – Italian comfort food at its best.
Don’t let this recipe ingredient length scare you either, once you have all your veggies cut up and ready, it goes pretty fast.
Tips: make sure you use the best parmigiano you can find, the cheese at the end makes this dish. Your broth should be homemade, but if not and you are press for time, make it the best store bought broth you can get.
RISOTTO WITH SPRING VEGETABLES, TOMATO, AND BASIL
For 6 servings
- 1 medium or 2 small zucchini
- 5 cups homemade meat broth, OR 1 cup canned beef broth diluted with 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- ⅓ cup carrot diced very fine
- ⅓ cup celery diced very fine
- 2 cups Arborio or other imported Italian risotto rice
- ½ cup shelled fresh young peas or thawed frozen peas
- 1 ripe, firm, fresh tomato, skinned raw with a peeler, seeded, and diced fine
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 6 or more fresh basil leaves, washed and shredded by hand
- Soak the zucchini in cold water, scrub them clean, and cut off both ends. Dice them very fine.
- Bring the broth to a very slow, steady simmer on a burner near where you’ll be cooking the risotto.
- Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, all the vegetable oil, and the chopped onion in a broad, sturdy pot, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook the onion until it becomes colored a fine golden brown.
- Add the diced carrot and celery, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time to coal them well. Add the diced zucchini, one or two pinches of salt, and cook for 8 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove half the vegetables in the pot, and set aside. Turn the heat to high. Add the rice, stirring quickly and thoroughly until the grains are coated well. If using fresh peas, add now.
- Add ½ cup of simmering broth, and cook the rice, stirring constantly with a long wooden spoon, wiping the sides and bottom of the pot clean as you stir, until all the liquid is gone. When there is no more liquid in the pot, add another ½ cup, continuing always to stir in the manner described above. Maintain heat at a lively pace.
- When the rice has cooked for 20 to 25 minutes, add the cooked vegetables you set aside earlier, the diced tomato, and the thawed frozen peas, if you are not using the fresh. Cook the rice until it is tender, but firm to the bite with barely enough liquid remaining to make the consistency somewhat runny. Off heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and all the grated Parmesan, and stir thoroughly until the cheese melts and clings to the rice. Taste and correct for salt. Mix in the shredded basil. Transfer to a platter and serve promptly.
We liked the dish, it was creamy and the vegetables made it a light summer dinner choice. Would I do anything different the next time? I would like to try to get a deeper flavor off the vegetables and I’m thinking that roasting half of them would achive that.
As always take a quick peek at our Gutsy Cook Pinterest Board to see what the other home chef did with this weeks choosen recipe.