Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Asparagus, zucchini and lemon risotto

Somewhere in the midst of all the happenings that have cropped up since January 1, spring has arrived. The dramas, busy days, lazy days, day trips, projects, sorting-outs and cleaning-ups have kept me from really noticing that everything is becoming warmer, brighter and greener. The staple stews that kept us going during cold winter weeks aren’t really needed anymore, and as I pack away my thickest sweater, it’s time to bring out recipes that match the season.

Cooking for other people gives a great excuse to make something special that you wouldn’t normally make for yourself. I had such an opportunity last weekend, and thought I’d try something suitably springy. Well, I don’t know how risotto fits into spring, but I used all green vegetables….does that count? And even better, it all gets cooked in one pan for less clean-up time. Also a good thing when cooking for guests.

Ingredients (serves four)
2 onions
2 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped finely
2 medium zucchini (courgettes), chopped
1lb (500g) asparagus, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 lemons, juiced and zested
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (mixed herbs)
1½ teaspoon oregano
Ground pepper, to taste
½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1 cup (250g) risotto rice
1 pint (½ litre) of vegetable stock (I made mine a double concentrate with two Knorr stockpot gel packs) 
4½oz (125g) grated grana padano or parmesan cheese (around ¾-1 cup)

  • Fry the onions in olive oil, adding the garlic after a minute or so.
  • Add the zucchini, asparagus and green pepper. Fry for five minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, oregano and ground pepper.
  • Slowly add the wine and stir it into the vegetables. Then, add the lemon juice and as much zest as desired (I used the zest from only one lemon, but might add more next time).  Retain a little of the zest for dressing.
  • Mix the risotto rice through the vegetables and allow it to cook gently for a minute.  Add the stock and bring back to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed.  Add a little more hot water if it looks like all the stock will be absorbed before the rice is fully cooked.
  • Stir in the grated cheese, and serve, sprinkling the remaining lemon zest on top of each portion.

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