Spring Green Risotto

Adapted via The Barefoot Contessa
Serves: 4 (main course) or 6 (side dish)

♦ 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
♦ 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
♦ 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2-3 leeks)
♦ 1 cup chopped fennel (bulb only – save fronds for other use)
♦ 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
♦ 2/3 cup dry white wine
♦ 4 to 5 cups simmering vegetable stock
♦ 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)
♦ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
♦ 2 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 (I omitted this)

Cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water (If using fresh peas,blanch blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.); set aside until use.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan 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 vegetable 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.

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, until and chives (if using). Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives (if using) and more Parmesan cheese.

Read more about this dish and my musical pairing by clicking HERE

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