Risotto is one of those dishes that I rarely order at a restaurant, but when I do, it's only because it's an incredible Italian restaurant with a grandmother who is most likely going to be cooking this dish. When it's good, it's really good. Saffron risotto used to be me thing. I like when risotto is very simple, with few ingredients, and bursting with flavor. I find that that's not so difficult to accomplish because rice absorbs flavor very well. If seasoned correctly, this dish can be winning .
As my family came over last week for dinner, I wanted to make some hearty and seasonal. As I mentioned many times by now the importance of seasonal eating, I wanted to make this a spring dish. Asparagus and peas are in season now in Switzerland, and I thought they would be the perfect two little vegetables to add to the rice. I used a ton of fresh lemon zest and juice which gave the risotto an incredible fresh and light flavor.
Though risotto is not difficult to make, it can be a bit time consuming, and a great arm workout, as you need to continuously keep stirring the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed. It's worth it! This recipe is vegan, and rice is naturally gluten free. Making a vegan risotto does not result in a less creamy or flavorful dish, so no need to add any butter or cream! Unless you really want to...
1 bunch of asparagus spears
1 cup peas
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
Sea salt to taste
To blanch the asparagus, boil them in water for about 2 minutes and rinse them under ice water. Put aside. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and cook onions for about 5 minutes. Add all of the arborio rice and stir for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium low and add the wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and continuously stir until the white wine has been completely absorbed.
Add 1 cup of stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Contine adding about 1/2 cup of stock to the rice and keep stirring each time until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Once you use all the stock and the liquid is absorbed, the rice should be very creamy. Stir in the asparagus and peas and heat.