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Lemon-Vegetable Risotto

6 Jul

This creamy risotto was colorful, flavorful, and full of good-for-you vegetables.  The lemon flavor was very pronounced and brightened up the whole dish to transform this risotto to a summer-appropriate dish.  I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, swapping out several of the vegetables in the original recipe for what I had on hand and was freshest.  I was very impressed with the variation in texture from the slightly crisp carrots to the ultra-creamy Arborio rice.  The real tricks here are almost constantly stirring the risotto to release the starch of the rice, never allowing the rice to become overly dry or overly soupy, and adding the butter and cheese at the end for a creamy finish.

Lemon-Vegetable Risotto

Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2011 edition

1 tbs. olive oil

2-3 cloves heirloom garlic

2-3 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

1/2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ slices

1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

5 cups homemade chicken stock

 3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice

1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1 tsp. lemon zest, grated

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbs. unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Cover and reduce heat to low.

Heat a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and heat.  Add zucchini, carrot, mushrooms and whites and light green parts of green onion.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 10-15 seconds.  Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from heat.  Set aside.

If necessary, add another splash of olive oil to the same cast iron skillet in which vegetables were cooked over medium heat.  Add rice and cook for 2-4 minutes until very slightly golden brown.  Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed, about 30 seconds.  Stir in another cup of broth.  Cook 5-7 minutes until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring almost constantly.  Reserving at least 1/4 cup broth, add remaining broth 1 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly.  Wait until each portion of broth is nearly absorbed before adding next batch.

Stir in the vegetables.  Cook 2-3 minutes until thoroughly heated.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of broth, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, greens from green onions and butter.  Taste for seasonings and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as necessary.

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