A Risotto for Spring Time
I love risotto and at when spring arrives, it has to be risotto primavera for me. A classic Italian dish, using seasonal spring vegetables – asparagus has a short season in the UK, so I love to let the it take centre stage for this recipe, along with some broad beans and peas.
Double podding fresh broad beans is a bit of a faff, but definitely time well spent. Remove those chewy outer layers and reveal the beautiful bright green beans. If you are using frozen beans, the outer pod will already have been removed.
Buy the best quality risotto rice you can get hold of – there are several varieties of rice suitable for risotto, the three main ones being Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. Carnaroli is also a great option, suited to all sorts of different risottos. Arborio rice is a great all-purpose option and works really well with robust ingredients like sausages and other meats. Vialone Nano is often used in the Veneto region of Italy for seafood and spring vegetable risottos, so would be ideal for our recipe.
Variations on the Theme
You can easily vary the vegetables – courgettes work really well in this recipe too. Feel free to vary the quantities of vegetables too, to get the balance you like.
If you want to keep this a plant based dish, use vegetarian stock and Parmesan.
Although for lots of rice-based recipes, you rinse the rice before cooking to remove the starch – don’t do that with risotto rice, as the starch adds to the lovely creaminess to the dish.
- 200g broad beans (you will need about 800g of fresh broad beans in the pod)
- 200g fresh shelled fresh or frozen peas
- 200g asparagus
- 50g butter
- 100g Parmesan
- 1 medium onion
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove
- 300g risotto rice
- 100ml dry white wine
- 1 sprig mint
- Salt and pepper
- If you are you are using fresh broad beans, you will need to pod them. Remove the beans from their outer pods. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the podded beans. Bring the water back to the boil, simmer for approximately 2 minutes and then drain. Place the beans into a bowl of cold water and pop the tender, bright green beans out of their thick skins by squeezing gently.
- If you are using fresh peas, you will also need to pod these. Fresh or frozen peas can be cooked in a little lightly salted boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Wash the asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends, then cut into 3-4 pieces. Add the asparagus to a small saucepan of boiling water and simmer for four minutes, then drain and cool.
- Dice half the butter into small cubes and place in the fridge.
- Grate the parmesan and place in the fridge.
- Peel and finely chop the onion.
- Bring the stock to a simmer on a low heat.
- Heat the olive oil and the remaining butter in a large, heavy-based pan.
- Add the onion and fry on a low heat, stirring now and then, for around 8 minutes, making sure the onions soften but don’t turn brown.
- Peel and finely chop or crush the garlic, add to the onions and fry for one more minute.
- With the heat on medium, add the rice and keep stirring it with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes so it gets lightly toasted, but not coloured, and very hot.
- Once the rice starts to sizzle, pour in the wine and keep stirring for about a minute until the wine has evaporated.
- Gradually add the warm stock, a ladle at a time, stirring often, letting each ladleful absorb before adding the next, for around 20 minutes. You may not need all the stock and if you run out, add a little water.
- Let the risotto simmer rather than boil and keep stirring until all the liquid is absorbed.
- After 15 minutes, stir the asparagus, peas and beans into the risotto, with a little salt and pepper.
- Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, and start tasting the rice - it should be softening but still with a bit of bite.
- Take the pan off the heat, add half the grated parmesan and the diced butter. Put the lid on the pan and leave to stand for two minutes.
- Wash the mint, pick the leaves, lay them on top of each other, roll them up and shred them.
- Stir the shredded mint into the risotto, leaving a little to garnish, check the seasoning and serve the risotto in warmed bowls with the rest of the Parmesan.