This recipe comes straight from my cooking muse, Ina Garten. I want to be Ina. I want to cook her fabulous food and work in her fabulous kitchen and live in her fabulous home and throw fabulous parties for my fabulous friends. She is the epitome of fabulous.
Alas, I am not Ina and I'm pretty far from fabulous, but I can make her fabulous food (on Friday . . . get it?).
Let me tell you, this one truly is fabulous. I'm pretty much a risotto freak, and this is one of the best I've ever had. I've made it twice now, and both times it has been amazing.
Let's get cooking!
Assemble your ingredients (there are kind of a lot for this one--and I have no idea why they aren't all in the picture): olive oil, butter, leeks, Arborio rice, white wine, chicken stock, asparagus, peas, lemons, mascarpone cheese, and Parmesan.
Ina tells you to use a couple more ingredients like fennel and chives, but I didn't have them and I didn't feel like using them. My risotto turned out just fine.
Warm your stock in one pan while you heat the oil and butter in another.
Add the chopped leeks to the oil and butter, and cook a few minutes.
I just need to stop and say that I had never cooked with leeks before. Yes, it's true. I was a little intimidated because every time someone on the Food Network talked about leeks they sounded like leeks were such a pain in the neck to clean. I mean, what with all the tough green stems you had to cut off and the sand between the leaves, they made it seem like you could spend the whole day washing the darned thing before you got around to cooking it.
Enter Trader Joe's and their pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-packaged leeks. Can we all shout a collective "Amen" for Trader Joe's and their leek situation? Hallelujah!
Alright. I'm fine now.
Once you've softened the leeks, add the rice and stir it around a little bit to coat it.
Add some wine. And maybe just a splash more. Because . . . you know . . . wine!
Here's where you do the risotto thing. Once the wine is absorbed, start adding the chicken stock a couple of ladles-full at a time. Stir it around a bit so it doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan. Because it will, if you don't watch it.
While that's happening, cook the asparagus in some boiling water for just a couple of minutes. Be careful here because you don't want mushy asparagus.
After two or three minutes, pull the asparagus out of the pot . . .
. . . and give it a good old ice bath.
By now, your risotto should be getting all nice and soft, but not too soft.
Add the asparagus and the peas (I don't know where the peas went in this picture!) and cook for about another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix together the mascarpone cheese and lemon juice.
Add that, along with the lemon zest and some salt and pepper, to the pot, stirring to mix everything together well.
And there you have it . . . Spring Green Risotto. Serve in a pretty dish and enjoy! (I know you will . . . it's that good.)
For a printable copy of the recipe (the way I made it, so it's not exactly Ina's recipe), click here.