Wednesday, January 14

RECIPE POST -- one pot dish Risotto with saffron, asparagus & black olive!

risotto should finish off 
looking creamy & fluffy

Tonight is a hearty vegetarian risotto 
which is a perfect mid-week winter supper.
While risotto is a time consuming dish, it is also a one dish meal, so stir for 20 minutes then dinner is served.  I made an asparagus, olive and saffron risotto tonight.

 What is risotto?
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish that becomes creamy when prepared.  Using aborio rice and adding dried saffron it creates a creamy dish that is nutty and buttery in flavor. The key to getting the right consistency is to use a meat, fish or vegetarian stock as the base and stir consistently. The rice is an Italian fluffy rice called aborio, and to me, it is between a rice and a pasta.  Most of the saffron found in the States is made in Spain then dried to orangish-red threads, but it's strong so use only a pinch.  Please note that the more you cook saffron the richer it gets so I add it close to the end of the cooking process.

A Salad With Arugula, Marconi Almonds 
And Goat Cheese Is The Perfect Partner!
It's a chilly night out and I don't feel like creating lots of pans needing to be cleaned, but we crave something hearty on this January evening.   With guests arriving for dinner, this meal is perfect.  While risotto is often made to accompany a roast or meat, tonight it is the star of the show.  Although it requires the cook to stay at the stove, I appreciate that it's a hearty vegetarian one-dish meal.  Most of the work is actually in chopping the vegetables so I prepped them in the morning and have them on hand in the refrigerator.   I like to serve this with a crisp, chilled French Chardonnay and an arugula salad, simply dressed with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salt & pepper.
What I Did In The Morning To Prepare:
I chopped the onions, garlic, asparagus and kept them in the fridge.  I set the table and washed the greens and compiled the salad (keeping the goat cheese and almonds wrapped on top of the bowl so they don't get soggy).  
It Feels Festive To Set A Lovely Table:
Although it's a fairly casual meal, we pull out vintage dishes, some Depression glass, then mixed and match patterns.  With a pretty table cloth added, the dinner feels fancy. 
Not heavily laden with cheese and butter (I do add a 1/4 cup of parmigiana and small amount of butter at the end after I turn off the flame), it feels like a semi guilt-free meal.  I finish it off with a squeeze of a 1/2 lemon and grate the  zest of the other half of lemon into the dish.  Mix it well and serve. 
In the beginning after you brown the onions and garlic add the rice then toast it gently before you add the broth.  
The key to making risotto is to keep this liquid-to-rice ratio above.  Keep stirring constantly and pour the liquid into the pan in small amounts, and just as it starts to look dry.  I keep a pan of heated homemade chicken broth on hand, and add small amounts to the pan. I keep the flame on medium to medium high for the risotto. 
Al dente is the perfect texture, which literally means "To The Tooth." I like to explain it as quite firm but not crunchy.  At the very end and exactly 20 minutes to the timer, turn off the flame and add the butter, cheese and lemon!   

25 ounces of chicken broth 
3 garlic cloves chopped fine
1 small yellow onion chopped fine
1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup of black olives (with pits, warn guests)
1 large pinch of dried saffron threads
1 cup Aborio rice
2 pats butter
1/4 cup shredded parmigiana cheese
1/2 cup white wine
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 lemon; zest of a 1/2 lemon
In a deep large pot heat olive oil, add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the asparagus and garlic and cook one minute.  Add the risotto and stir until lightly browned.  In an adjacent pot heat your chicken broth and keep on simmer.  Ladle a small dollop of broth into the pan and stir constantly.  Keep on repeating this  when the mixture gets slightly dry, and also intermittently add small amounts of white wine.  The last five minutes sprinkle the saffron into the mix and stir. After 20 minutes, turn off the flame add the butter/cheese, stir, then zest and squeeze the lemon, add cracked black pepper and serve!
I like to collect Depression Glass and mix in these pretty, colorful dishes onto my table
Happy Nesting 
XO Tamara