Several years ago, I took cooking classes at an agriturismo in southern Italy. On the last day of our classes, my instructor Maria pointed to a recipe for risotto, indicating this would be included in our menu for the day. We worked in the kitchen that afternoon on the mis en place, but the risotto, she said to the translator who was in the kitchen with us, would need to be prepared just before guests were scheduled to eat. At 8pm, just as everyone was beginning to gather in the dining room, she waved me over from the kitchen, eager to show me the art of making risotto.
“It’s all about pace,” the translator said to me, moments after Maria murmured something in Italian that I could not understand. “The risotto has to take on a kind of glassiness before the warm broth is added.” Then, I watched as she added ladle after ladle of broth, waiting each time until the last bit of it had just disappeared before pouring in the next one, until finally, after several rounds, the risotto was just al dente and creamy from broth and cheese and its own starchy output.
Here, I’m making risotto like I learned from Maria, in a wide sauté pan with straight rims that fits snugly over my stovetop burner. Because Wolf Gourmet products boast a particularly advanced construction for even heat distribution, they’re ideal for cooking things like risotto, where the uniform cooking of each grain of rice contributes to the whole of the dish.
Since spring has just begun where I live in Portland, Oregon, I’ve pulled in some of my favorite springtime vegetables, simmering green garlic leaves in the broth and also using their base in the dish. I’ve also piled the risotto high with fresh greens like meaty fava beans and crisp snap peas, making a springtime rendition of the Italian rice dish that I know would make Maria proud.
Garlic Green Risotto with Spring Vegetables
fava beans in pod
green garlic bottom 3 inches of whites separated from green tops; green tops rinsed clean and white bottoms chopped finely
unsalted butter divided into 4 and 2 tablespoons
shallots chopped finely
dry white wine
grated pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese plus more for garnish
zest of 1 lemon
kosher salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
creme fraiche for garnish
pea shoots or microgreens for garnish
Remove the fava beans from the pods. Boil salted water in a large saucepan. Add fava beans (they’ll still have their waxy outer coating on), boil for 1 minute, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer to an ice bath. Peel the outer waxy coating from the bean. Add the peeled snap peas to the boiling water and boil until tender, about 1-2 minutes.* Strain and transfer to the ice bath to halt the cooking. Set fava beans and snap peas aside until nearly ready to serve the risotto.
Discard any remaining water from boiling the vegetables and add the vegetable broth to the same saucepan, along with the green leafy part of the green garlic, which will infuse the broth with a mild garlicky flavor (if using green garlic; if using regular garlic, just heat the stock by itself). Simmer over medium until warm. Once warm, cover with a lid and continue to heat over low while you prepare the rest of the risotto. Adding warm, not cold, broth to the rice is critical to the cooking process.
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low. Wolf Gourmet products are ideal for cooking risotto as they maintain an even heat throughout, which is necessary for cooking the rice evenly. Heat the butter in the sauté pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add the shallots and the white parts of the green garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the rice, and stir to coat. Once the risotto has a slight sheen to it, add the wine and cook until most has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Remove the green garlic leaves from the vegetable broth and discard.
Once the wine has cooked down, begin slowly adding the warm broth, 1 cup at a time. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but not continuously (every 1-2 minutes is ideal), until broth is absorbed. Repeat until all 4 cups of broth have incorporated into the rice. Throughout this process, monitor the heat. Your rice should be cooking at a moderate simmer, not boiling rapidly and not slowly steeping, and it should take roughly 20 minutes total to cook.
When the last cup of broth is added to the risotto, reheat the fava beans and pea shoots by quickly sautéing in the remaining butter over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Season with kosher salt to taste.
Once rice is cooked through, add cheese, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and top each bowl with 1 spoonful of crème fraiche, fava beans, snap peas, additional shaved pecorino (or Parmesan), and garnish with pea shoots or microgreens. Serve immediately.
If you can’t find green garlic, use 8 cloves of regular garlic instead and omit the step of “steeping” the green garlic leaves in the stock.
I served my risotto with whole snap peas here; however, you can also opt to slice the snap peas diagonally after blanching.
Brooke Bass – Brooke spent the better part of her twenties in academia as a sociologist studying issues relating to gender, marriage, and the family while spending her spare time reading about food and cooking for friends. She eventually turned her hobby into her career and now works exclusively as a food and travel writer, recipe developer, and blogger at Chocolate + Marrow. Having grown up in New Orleans, Brooke’s recipes tend to have some Cajun flair to them, though she also enjoys drawing on the bounty that surrounds her in her current home of Portland, Oregon.
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