seasonal vegetable risotto

6 Dec

it doesn’t look as pretty as it tastes, there should be something red in it. add some bell pepper or tomato to yours so that it’s a pretty color, or butternut squash.

risotto cooked using half stock (veg or chicken) half water comes out to only 170 calories per cup! Add in the veggies that we will roast in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and that’s still only about 210 calories for a one cup serving. and since it’s overflowing with a garden variety of in-season veggies it’s high in vitamins, fiber AND the in-season part makes it both fresh and delicious as well as low-cost! a cup and a half of this creamy goodness topped with toasted walnuts and shredded cheese is less than 500 calories, and costs only $6.50 a person.     Thank me later.

So how does this creamy masterpiece get so creamy? Well, arborio rice is used for risotto because it naturally “creams” when cooked using the “risotto” method. Some other grains will cook similarly but arborio is really the most effective in creating the illusion of gallons of heavy cream. How do I cook arborio using the risotto method? First you toast up the arborio rice and then you add in half a ladle full of liquid every 5-10 minutes for about 25 minutes, the rice will slowly absorb the liquid and release it’s starches. The starches will bind together creating a creamy texture. So with this knowledge in our heads and a hunger in our bellies (and our taste buds), let’s get to it!

What You Will Need for 2 Servings:

3/4 cup arborio rice

1.5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

1.5 cups of water

10 asparagus tips cut into inch long pieces

1 leek, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 of an acorn squash or 1/3 of a butternut squash, small dice

1 cup of thinly sliced cremini mushrooms (note about mushrooms, NEVER run under water,

the mushrooms are like sponges and will absorb the water and become flavorless. to clean, wipe with a damp towel.)

1 sprig of rosemary, minced or 1 t of dried rosemary

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1/2 T of olive oil or butter

salt and pepper

2 T of toasted walnuts, chopped, for garnishing (optional)

1/3 of a cup of shredded asiago cheese (optional)

I used leeks, mushrooms, asparagus and squash because they are in season which means they will be less expensive and better tasting. You can use ANY vegetables you like, add in roasted or blanched broccoli, add in bell peppers, add in tomatoes, add in wilted spinach, add in your hopes and dreams and vegetable wishes.


preheat the oven to 350.

Heat the stock and water in a small sauce pot over medium heat until it’s at a simmer, keep it simmering throughout the process.

in a large, wide sauce pot heat the 1/2 T of oil or butter, add in the leeks and saute until soft.

Add in the garlic, saute for a minute. Add in the mushrooms and let them sit in one position for a good 6 minutes before stirring so that they can get really  nice and brown on all sides.  Once the mushrooms are brown, remove the contents of the pot and set aside.

Pour the rice into the pot and let it toast up for about 4 minutes but do not let it brown at all.

Combine the squash with 1/2 t olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Do the same thing with the asparagus but roast for only 10 minutes. Set aside while the rice is cooking .

To the toasted arborio: Pour in a ladle full of stock, stir until absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 of a lade full or 4 oz of stock to the rice about every 5 minutes or once the rice absorbs the previously added liquid. Add liquid, stir and let absorb, add liquid. Taste a grain of rice about twenty minutes in to see how firm it is as a gauge to how much longer you need to add liquid. You should have to add all 3 cups of liquid and it should take between 25-35 minutes total. Here are some pictures of mine as it progressed..

Once almost all of the liquid has been added to and absorbed by the risotto and the grains are almost completely soft with a tiny al dente bite, add in the minced rosemary, and stir in all of the veggies. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Off the heat stir in the cheese, add to bowls and garnish with toasted and finely chopped pecans or walnuts!


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