So anyone who knows me, and my cooking, will know that for the life of me – I CANNOT make rice! There’s something about now being able to touch it.. it drives me CRAZY! But.. risotto on the other hand, requires a lot of loving! And that’s why I enjoy making it! I have a few recipes that I make, but the most important thing is to have a good basic risotto recipe as your base, then you can modify it as you like! I like using Jamie Oliver’s recipe. This risotto I used to accompany a salmon fillet, therefore I didn’t use as much cheese as I normally would, and added lemon juice and mint for fresh flavors!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 cups risotto rice
1 cup vermouth or dry white wine
1 bunches of asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped
2 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a block for grating
a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
¼ cup of Butter
zest and juice of 1 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the olive oil in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes. Add the rice and turn up the heat. Don’t let the rice or veg catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it stirring. (This is why I can make risotto – you constantly keep moving!)
Quickly pour in the vermouth or wine.
Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to low so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly, otherwise the outside of each grain will be stodgy and the inside hard and nutty (you don’t want to cook it too slowly either, or it will turn into rice pudding!) and continue to add ladlefuls of stock until it has all be absorbed. This should take about 14 to 15 minutes and give you rice that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente.
This is where you get to modify the recipe to cater to your taste buds!
In the saucepan with my stock, I added another 2 cups of broth and added my asparagus stalks and the tips. Gently bring to a boil and cook the asparagus until they are no longer crunchy. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful (including the asparagus pieces) at a time until the rice is cooked. You might not need all your stock. I then added a can of diced tomatoes with their juices and mixed it well together.
Turn off the heat, beat in your butter and Parmesan, mint, almost all the lemon zest and all the juice. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute. Serve a scattering of lemon zest and a block of Parmesan on the table.
I served it with a nice piece of salmon that I seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and lemon slices. Baked at 400F for 15-18 minutes.