Making risotto at home is much easier than you may think. My method requires very little stirring and you’ll still end up with a creamy rice, without having to use any cream. I am often reticent to order risottos out at restaurants, as they tend to take a shortcut to achieve the creaminess by adding loads of heavy cream. It is absolutely not necessary, and in fact risotto can be a very healthy dish when prepared at home. A few vigorous stirs at the appropriate times during the cooking process, and especially at the end, will give you excellent results with minimal effort.
Spring Pea, Artichoke & Pesto Risotto
- 1 medium sweet onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped or grated
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 3-4 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 can artichoke hearts in water not marinated, halved or quartered
- ½ cup basil packed
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted lightly
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus more for topping if desired
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Make the pesto. In a small food processor (mini-prep), combine the basil, pine nuts, ½ teaspoon salt, cheese, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and one garlic clove. Blend until well pureed.
- In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and the rice and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of stock and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir, bring to a simmer, and cover. Turn heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Check the rice and stir for about two minutes. Add another cup of stock, bring back to a simmer and cover again for another 10 minutes. Repeat again, adding only as much liquid as need to keep it well moistened.
- After a full 30 minutes of simmering, taste the rice for doneness. It should be nice and softened by now. If not, keep cooking, adding liquid as necessary. When it is ready, stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes to release the starches. Add enough more stock so that it is well moistened, but not soupy.
- Stir in the peas and artichokes, along with the lemon zest and some freshly cracked black pepper. Cook another minute to ensure everything is warmed through. Finally, add in the pesto. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Serve warm with more grated cheese.