Thursday, September 11, 2008

Risotto with Four Vegetables

This is one of the prettiest Italian risottos, especially when made with acorn squash. Recipe serves 3-4.


1 cup shelled fresh peas
1 cup green beans, cut into short lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces (90 g) butter
1 acorn squash, skin and seeds removed, flesh cut into matchsticks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup Italian dry white vermouth
4 cups boiling chicken stock
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the peas and beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water, drain again and set aside.
2. Heat the oil with 1 ounce (30 g) of the butter in a medium saucepan until foaming. Add the squash and cook gently for 2-3 minutes or until just softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook gently for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
3. Stir in the rice until the grains start to swell and burst, then add the vermouth. Stir until the vermouth stops sizzling and most of it has been absorbed by the rice, then add a few large spoonfuls of the stock, with salt and pepper to taste. Stir over a low heat until the stock has been absorbed.
4. Gradually add the remaining stock, a few spoonfuls at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more, and stirring all the time.
5. After about 20 minutes, when all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked and creamy but still has a "bite", gently stir in the vegetables, the remaining butter and about half the grated Parmesan. Heat through, then taste for seasoning and serve with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese served separately.

Variations: Shelled broad beans can be used instead of the peas, and asparagus tips instead of the green beans. Use zucchini if acorn squash is not available.

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