Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lemony Risotto with Peas and Prosciutto

Risotto is one of my favorite foods, both to make and to eat. Even the basic canvas that you start with is delicious, but there are endless variations. This one is only a couple of steps above the most basic risotto, and you can feel free to tweak it as you see fit. But I can vouch for the recipe as is - incredibly tangy and delicious. In fact ours was a bit *too* tangy so I've reduced the amount of lemon juice in the recipe. I took Giada's lemon risotto and turned it into a main course with the addition of a vegetable (peas) and a protein (prosciutto). It makes for a very flavorful and well-balanced, albeit admittedly carb-filled, meal.

A lot of people think risotto is hard to make. But I promise you, do it once and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. Sure, you have to devote your undivided attention for about 20 minutes, but if you don't have the patience to do that, well, are you serious? And it's not literally undivided attention - you can step away for a moment here and there. Personally, I find it therapeutic to stand over the stove and stir, watching a meal come together like magic before my eyes. Try this one out - leave out the prosciutto if you want it to be vegetarian - and let me know if you still think risotto is too difficult for a weeknight.

You're welcome.

Lemony Risotto with Peas and Prosciutto

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis' "Giada's Kitchen"

serves 3-4


2 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth

juice of 1 medium lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, or 1/2 medium onion, diced

3/4 cup arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 tablespoon creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons roughly chopped prosciutto

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. In a small saucepan, bring broth and about half of the lemon juice to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover.

2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and remaining lemon juice and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated, about 3 more minutes.

3. Gradually add the heated broth and lemon juice to the risotto, using a ladle or 1/2 cup measure. After each addition, stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed (if you run your spoon through the pot it should take a moment for the gap to fill back in again) before adding the next 1/2 cup of liquid. Gradually add all the broth in this manner, until the risotto is creamy and tender with a slight bite to it. Add the peas with your final addition of broth. When almost completely absorbed, turn off the heat.

4. Add parmesan, creme fraiche, lemon zest, prosciutto, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. Serve topped with parsley.


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