Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Vegetable Risotto

I have a confession. I have never made risotto before. I've eaten it in restaurants a few times. But when I read the directions, the idea of constantly stirring something for 45 mins is not very appealing.

Enter (again) the pressure cooker. I am aware, because of Lorna Sass' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen, that a pressure cooker greatly reduces the time it takes to make risotto, to about 15 min of cooking time. I just didn't do it.

Until now.

This week, I got a new issue of Vegetarian Times. And there was a "Spring Vegetable Risotto" recipe. For one thing, it called for green onions (we got a bunch at the farm this week) and fennel (which we got a few weeks ago). Sold! I looked at that recipe and a lemon-and-asparagus one from the Lorna Sass cookbook, and did a little combining.

Voila! It was delicious. And easy. And boy, I wish I had better camera skills. I look at many blogs and mine pale in comparison. But the Corelle dinnerware doesn't help. Then again, my photos aren't in published cookbooks, like Susan Voisan's are ( Her photos have graced the pages of Nava Atlas' Vegan Express.

This recipe also got a thumbs up from the toddler.

Spring Vegetable Risotto
1.5 cups arborio rice: $1.96
0.5 lb asparagus, tough stems removed: 1.00
1 c. fresh herbs (I used dill, basil, and parsley),c hopped: 1.94
4 oz goat cheese (I actually used a bit less): 2.49
1 bunch green onions, chopped: 1.00
1 fennel bulb, chopped: 0.75?
3.5 cup vegetable stock or water: free (see below)
5 cloves garlic, pressed: 0.30
1 T olive oil: 0.11
Total: $9.55 for 6 1-cup servings, or $1.59 per serving.

Put about 1.5 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Bring to a boil. Snap the asparagus spears to remove the tough ends. Add asparagus, and cover. Steam at medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.

Remove asparagus to a bowl with tongs. Pour cooking water into a heat-safe measuring cup (why waste it?) At this point, I add water to make 2 cups (because that's how big my measuring cup is), and I add some vegetarian stock bouillon. Which I don't know how much I paid for it. When cool, chope the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat oil in cooker over medium. Saute onions and fennel for 6-10 mins, until nice and soft. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add rice and garlic. Stir to coat with oil (I had to add a little more oil) and saute one minute. Add the 2 cups of stock from above, and another 1.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover and close the cooker. Bring to high pressure. Reduce heat enough to keep it at high pressure (2nd line for a Kuhn Rikon, or still rockin' for my Presto). Cook 5 min.

Remove from heat. Reduce pressure using fast-release method (running the lid under running cold water). Remove lid, facing away from you. It's hot! Stir.

Add in half the herbs and all of the asparagus. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with the remaining herbs, the set aside onions and fennel, and crumbled goat cheese.

For the leftovers, I just mixed in the rest of the herbs and onion mixture.

Now, this is actually a bit pricey for me, as far as recipes go. You could decrease the cost by limiting or eliminating the goat cheese (but why?) Actually, I did limit it. Eliminating it makes it a vegan recipe. It would be cheaper with your own fresh herbs...the fresh parsley came from the freezer for me. I generally don't go buy fresh herbs, but it wasn't basil season here, so I made an exception.

You can use any spring veggies...leeks and peas are other good options (including frozen peas, which should be added after everything is cooked).

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