To me, there is no greater comfort food than risotto. It’s creamy, hearty and delicious. I love risotto. I also love Ina Garten… but not as much as risotto. I came across this recipe while watching Ina on her show Barefoot Contessa, salivating the whole time. And when I made it I was blown away; yummy veggies, mascarpone, and a lemony bite. Perfect for all seasons. Her recipe is just for the risotto, but I add sautéed shrimp for some protein… and an excuse to eat shrimp. I also roast the asparagus instead of blanching it. Roasting vegetables gives them way more flavor. Also, when I first started cooking (really cooking and searching for those amazing recipes, that is) I read that homemade chicken stock gives food way more flavor. Hogwash, I thought, that’s way too much work! Well, I have learned that this is an absolute truth. Make your own stock. It’s super easy, freezes beautifully, and will make your dish 10x better. I use Ina Garten’s recipe. Find it here.
*Money Saving Tips:
1. In a lot of grocery stores (like Whole Foods and Central Market) you can buy foods in bulk. It’s cheaper because you’re not spending on the packaging. Buy the arborio rice this way.
2. Fennel is expensive, like 4 bucks a bulb. It gives this dish a slight anise flavor, which is nice, but this dish is still good without it. Did you know that fennel is a primary ingredient in absinthe??? I didn’t either until just now. Thanks Wikipedia!
Spring Green Risotto with Sautéed Shrimp (adapted from Ina Garten via Foodnetwork.com)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
- 1 cup chopped fennel
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 pound thin asparagus
- 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tbsp freshly pressed garlic, less if you’re not into garlic as much as I am
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and butter in a medium sauce over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Roast in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes.
When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the asparagus to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.
In a medium skillet, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through about 3-4 minutes. DON’T OVERCOOK THEM, then they’re all rubbery and gross.