Another thing I’ve realized from this challenge is that even though you may not feel like cooking dinner one night you do it anyway because your meal plan is set and you’ve already purchased the ingredients to make those meals. Tonight was one of those nights. It was an exhausting day, but I powered through because I knew I had risotto to make. And really, what better way to end an exhausting day than with a comforting bowl of creamy risotto?
Risotto is one of those dishes that seems complicated. I mean, all that stirring, stirring, and stirring and keeping constant watch over it. Now I’m even more exhausted! It’s actually a breeze to make and only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. There is, however, a lot of stirring involved. Look at it this way, you can say you got your work out in while cooking dinner. Bonus! Another bonus? You can enjoy a glass of the leftover white wine after the kids go to bed. Totally worth all that stirring!
I made this meal for about $20, but I could have fed an army with it.
LEMONY SPRING VEGETABLE RISOTTO
(Again, I’ve noted my freebie ingredients below)
I actually tried to measure my ingredients for you tonight…
- ½ bunch of asparagus, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup frozen sweet peas
- 1 large leek (white and light green parts), rinsed and chopped (about 2 cups)
- Any leftover scallions from Meal #1, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 3 T butter – FREEBIE
- Olive oil – FREEBIE
- Zest of one lemon
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 2 containers of chicken stock (32 oz each)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese – FREEBIE
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese – FREEBIE
- Salt & pepper – FREEBIE
First, bring your chicken stock to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. You won’t use all of this stock during the cooking process, but you’ll end up using it later. You’ll see…
Blanch the asparagus and peas in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes until they turn bright green. Drain the vegetables and drop them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking.
Heat 2 T of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a dutch oven or large pan. Add the leeks, scallions, and garlic to the pan, cooking until the leeks begin to soften (about 5 minutes or so).
Add the rice to the pan and cook until it begins to soften slightly (about another 5 minutes).
Time to add the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add the chicken stock to the pan. I add two full ladles each time. I know some recipes will tell you to add ½ cup or some other measurement, but I just add two full ladles. That method always works for me, but if you like to measure, go right ahead!
So after you add two ladles of stock to the pan, stir the rice. And stir the rice. And stir the rice. Get the picture? After the stock has been absorbed, add two more ladles of stock and stir (stir, stir, stir). And then add two more ladles after that stock has been absorbed. See? Easy. You just keep adding stock and stirring. Adding stock and stirring. Here are some photos of the progression – see how it becomes more and more creamy over time?
Your risotto should be ready after about 20 to 25 minutes of this adding stock/stirring process. The risotto should be creamy but still have a slight bite to it, so simply taste along the way so you’ll know when it’s done. Like I said, you won’t need to use all that stock, so don’t worry if your risotto is ready and you have some stock leftover.
Time to add the veggies (and please ignore the rust on my colander above. Ick!), lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese to the rice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add one more ladle of stock, 1 T of butter, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice immediately before serving. Top each portion with a little dollop of ricotta and some freshly ground pepper.
Now, I don’t think leftover risotto is for everyone because it loses some of its creaminess and dries out a bit, but I don’t mind it (in fact, I even like to eat it cold). This is when the leftover stock comes in handy – add it to the risotto before refrigerating it to add a bit more moisture.
Two meals down, 3 more to go…