Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rosemary Risotto with Borlotti Beans

This is a classic Italian risotto with a subtle and complex taste, from the heady flavors of rosemary to the savory beans and the fruity-sweet flavors of mascarpone and Parmesan. Recipe serves 3-4.


14 ounce (400 g) can borlotti beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 3/4-4 cups simmering vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Scant 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Drain the beans, rinse under cold water and drain again. Puree about two-thirds of the beans fairly coarsely in a food processor or blender. Set the remaining beans aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and garlic for 6-8 minutes until very soft. Add the rice and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains are thoroughly coated in oil and are slightly translucent.
3. Pour in the wine. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time, until the wine has been absorbed. Add the stock gradually, a ladle full at a time, waiting for each quantity to be absorbed before adding more, and continuing to stir.
4. When the rice is three-quarters cooked, stir in the bean puree. Continue to cook the risotto, adding the remaining stock, until it is creamy and the rice is tender but still has a bit of "bite". Add the reserved beans, with mascarpone, Parmesan and rosemary, then season to taste. Stir thoroughly, then cover and leave to stand for about 5 minutes so that the risotto absorbs the flavors fully and the rice completes cooking. Serve with extra Parmesan, if you like.

Variation: Fresh thyme or marjoram could be used for this risotto instead of rosemary, if preferred. One of the great virtues of risotto is that it lends itself well to variations. Experiment with different herbs to make your own specialty dish.

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