To me, nothing says “I love you” like a bowl of risotto because someone stood and constantly stirred a pot to make that dinner. Tonight I’ll celebrate Meatless Monday—and show my kids how much I love them—by stirring up a pot of Susan Belsinger’s spring-inspired Risotto Primavera, which she created for Natural Home & Garden. In this recipe, sweet fennel and snow peas are complemented by salty Parmesan and a touch of lemon juice. True love.
Risotto Primavera with Snow Peas and Fennel
Serves 6 to 8
6 cups hot vegetable stock or 5 cups stock and 1 cup dry white wine
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion or leeks, chopped
1 cup fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
3/4 pound snow peas
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 cup fennel sprigs, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Fresh-ground black pepper
1. Bring stock to a simmer, reduce heat, and keep it hot.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add onion or leeks and sauté about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped fennel bulb and stir another minute. Add rice and stir well to coat evenly.
3. Sauté, stirring a few minutes, until grains turn chalky white. Carefully add about 1/2 cup of hot stock and stir well. As rice begins to dry out, add another 1/2 cup of stock, cooking over medium-low heat. Continue this procedure, stirring to prevent rice from sticking, adding stock in small amounts as necessary.
4. Cut snow peas diagonally in half; add them and garlic after about 15 minutes. Cook risotto another 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Toward end of cooking, when rice is just about done, add salt to taste, then mix in 1 cup of Parmesan, minced fennel sprigs, parsley and lemon juice. Continue stirring. (Note: You may not use all the stock, depending on cooking time.)
6. Taste for doneness after 25 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper and remaining Parmesan. Risotto should be al dente. Serve immediately.
Sweet fennel and snow peas mingle with tangy Parmesan and lemon in this springy dish. Photo by Joe Coca