Asparagus, Broccoli, and Carrot Risotto

April 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  Okay, so I make a lot of risotto.  It’s become one of my “causes” to try and get more people to appreciate how versatile basic risotto can be, and how really simple it is to make once you’ve gotten the hang of it.  Pretty much, if I’m at a dead loss for what to make for dinner and I have some arborio rice hanging out in my kitchen, you can bet a risotto is in the works.

Most risottos that I make are, admittedly, not hugely full of nutrients.  In fact, I think risotto in general is seen as being pretty unhealthy for you, because a lot of people make it with a ton of cheese, maybe butter, sometimes wine, and the other added ingredients can sometimes take a back seat to the creaminess of the rice itself, which really shouldn’t ever happen.  Arborio rice is a fantastic blank canvas, and you can (and should!) get creative with the kinds of things you throw in.  Some really awesome flavor and texture combinations can come out of it.

awesome textures, flavors, and colors!

This particular risotto was actually my attempt to get some more veggies into my eating, so I think it turned out a bit healthier than these things often do.  I was actually going to add even more veggies than I did, but if I had added much more, it would have been a salad with some risotto thrown in, not an actual risotto with some veggie accents.  At first I thought that I had already gone overboard, but it turned out pretty much perfectly in terms of proportions and amounts!  And it was super tasty, and you can even feel pretty okay about yourself in terms of health, because I mean, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots?  All pretty awesome in the nutrient department.  So, give it a try, and if you’ve never done risotto before, you should start right now!

Asparagus, Broccoli, and Carrot Risotto
4-5 c vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into thirds or quarters lengthwise (if your asparagus doesn’t come in bunches, try two large fistfuls?)
Olive oil
1 small-to-medium head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 bunch carrots, chopped (about 4-5 mediumish carrots)
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c arborio rice
1/2 c vermouth, or another dry white wine
Optional: 1/2-3/4 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Start bringing your stock to a boil while you chop all the veggies.

don't you feel healthy just looking at all the veggies?

When it’s boiling, drop in the asparagus and cook for 4-5 minutes.  You want it to be cooked through, but nowhere near limp and lifeless.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the asparagus pieces from the stock, and place them in a bowl of ice water so that they stop cooking immediately.  Drain, and set aside.  Turn the heat on the stock down to low or medium low, just enough to keep it hot.

Add a little olive oil to a sauté pan (about 1 tbsp to start), and warm it up over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add in the broccoli and carrots.  Sauté, adding more olive oil if necessary, until they, too, are cooked through but still crisp and kind of snappy.  We’ll have no mushy vegetables in this risotto, thank you very much!

carrots and broccoli!

Set this aside as well, off the heat.

In a large saucepan, heat up another 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil, and add in the onions.  Sauté until they soften and get a little bit translucent, maybe 2-3 minutes.  Then add the arborio rice, and add another splash of olive oil if things are getting a bit dry.  Stir this continuously for about a minute, making sure the rice is getting evenly (but very lightly) coated in the olive oil, and then add 1 c of the hot vegetable stock.

stir stir stir

Stir it in until fully absorbed.  Then add the vermouth or wine, again stirring until it’s fully absorbed; after this point, you’ll just keep adding vegetable stock 1/2 – 1 c at a time, stirring continuously.  Start tasting your risotto after about 2 1/2 – 3 c have been added, to make sure you don’t overcook it.  Again, you’re looking for it to be slightly al dente when you finish cooking it, so that it has just the right amount of bite (which is to say, not very much, but still noticeable).

getting close, but not quite there yet

When you’re satisfied, turn off the heat and add in all of your veggies and cheese!

beautiful fresh veggies

Serve while still hot, of course, and enjoy the awesomeness of a colorful and (reasonably) healthy creamy risotto!

practically perfect in every way

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