Risotto Printanière is a luxurious way to showcase the beautiful colors and tender flavors of Spring. Tender freshly cut asparagus, spring onions, peas, favas, and any other spring veggies you might find come together with rich Parmigiano Reggiano, a hint of lemon, fresh herbs and a tender pea shoot and arugula salad to create a wonderful spring lunch or dinner entrée that will wow your guests! Perfect risotto every time!
8 cups water
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 lb. fava beans
1 lb. English peas
1/4 lb. sugar snap peas (or snow peas)
2 spring onions, red or white, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 baby carrot, peeled
2 cups Arborio rice, washed until water runs clear
1 cup dry white wine
1 fresh bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme or lemon thyme, chopped (stems reserved)
6 sprigs parsley, chopped (stems reserved)
2 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 handful fresh pea shoots
1 handful fresh baby fava leaves
1 handful baby arugula
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, whole
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks (no sugar added)
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water is heating, prepare the vegetables: Trim and peel the asparagus and put the stems in another pot, and reserve the peelings in small bowl. Shell the English peas and put the pods in the pot with the asparagus stems. Trim the sugar snaps and shell the favas. Discard the fava pods. Dice the onions, white part only and chop the green stem and add to the vegetable trimmings. Dice the carrot and add to the pot. Cover the trimmings with the water and bring to quick boil and then remove from heat and let stand till cool. Strain into a clean pot and reserve over low heat.
Add enough salt to the boiling water to taste like the sea, and cook the asparagus, peas, snap peas and favas separately until just al dente, and remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of ice water. Remove each vegetable from the ice water when cool and reserve. Cut the asparagus into batons about 1 inch long. Cook the asparagus peels and strain into ice water. Put the cooked, cold peels in a blender and add a bit of ice water and a pinch of salt and puree until smooth, then strain into a clean bowl and keep cold.
Place a risotto pan or deep sauté pan over medium high heat and rub the pan with the garlic clove. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and gently sauté the onions until soft, 3 minutes. Add the bay leaf and the rice, and cook until rice is translucent. Add the wine and some salt to taste. Cook until nearly dry and then add the warm vegetable broth a few ladles at a time to just cover the rice each time. Stir the rice occasionally to avoid sticking, but don’t stir too hard – this will break up the rice. Learn to move the pan and toss the rice. When the rice is just nearly cooked, add a bit of broth and pour the rice onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread the rice out to cool. This way you can finish the dish when you are ready with little effort!
To finish, warm the rice in a bit of broth and bring to a simmer. Grate the zest of one lemon into the rice and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and toss into the rice, adding broth as needed to keep it saucy but not soupy. Stir in the herbs, whipped cream and the cheese and toss off the heat- heat will make the cream “break”. Spoon the asparagus juice around and over the risotto.
Make a quick vinaigrette with the lemon juice from the peeled lemon and the 1/4 cup olive oil, and toss the pea shoots, arugula and mint with a bit of the dressing. Place scoops of risotto into warmed bowls and top with the salad and serve with more parmesan if desired.
YIELD: 8 servings
This risotto would be great with any seasonal wild mushrooms, gently sautéed with shallots and butter, but none better than fresh Morels if you can get them. Asparagus and morels are two wonderful symbols of Spring — what grows together, goes together!
SOURCE: Chef Jamie Smith