Some Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

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April 10, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

Chris’ hours seem to be getting longer and longer. Such is the life of a first year associate at a big law firm, I suppose. But it means I’ve been spending quite a few evenings alone lately. Okay, with Miss Gertie, but still, lots of TV dinners. And by that I don’t mean microwave food, just me eating on the couch in front of the TV. As the weather gets nicer and the days longer, I’m sure I will shed my couch-potato tendencies and do something more productive, or at the very least more interesting, out and about in London. But for now I am completely caught up on my regularly scheduled programs.

When this happens, I breakdown and end up watching shows that I would normally skip and/or judge myself for watching. In an act of desperation/boredom I have recently watched the entire series of HBO’s Enlightened in two nights, bought into the media hype of the very trashy Preachers’ Daughters, and lastly creeped myself out a bit by trying out Hannibal. Frankly I don’t quite get it. What is it really trying to be? Is it going to be solely about cannibals? Are their really a lot of them out there? Ew. Ew. Ew.

I’m confessing this today because I was reading (on eater.com) that in this new show, the creators want to develop Hannibal Lecter’s deep character by showing him as a true chef of human cuisine. And they have actually staffed one of my favorite chefs, José Andrés, as a consultant to make the experience of dining on human organs more palpable to the viewer. Interesting? Yes. Gross? Also yes.

On that note, I thought I would share with you a perfectly normal, downright tasty, and not weird at all recipe. This is a happy light fresh spring risotto that can even easily be made vegetarian if I have left you squeamish.

Lemony Spring Vegetable Risotto: A Broad Cooking

I started the risotto by toasting the rice and shallot, as usual, but instead of using white wine, I substituted lemon juice for the base. Be sure to zest (and reserve) the lemon before cutting it.

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After incorporating 3 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for an entirely meat-free dish), I added the thinly sliced asparagus and fresh spring peas. Then continue to add broth so that the vegetables cook through as the risotto finishes.

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When the risotto is one scoop of broth away from being finished, stir in and wilt the baby spinach.

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Just before serving, add lemon zest for an extra zip of flavor and a scoop of mascarpone for a luxurious and silky finish.

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I served this risotto with a grilled leek pork sausage. It would also be great topped with some crisp prosciutto. Or if you are skeeved out by this whole hannibal-cannibal thing, just skip the meat. It’s a hearty fresh dish on its own.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Leek Sausage: A Broad Cooking

Lemony Spring Vegetable Risotto

Serves 4

4 ½ cups chicken broth

½ Tbs olive oil

1 shallot

1 cup Arborio rice

1 lemon, zest and juice

½ cup asparagus, thinly sliced

½ cup peas

4 oz. baby spinach

¼ cup mascarpone cheese

Salt and Pepper

Heat ½ Tbs. olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, sauté for 3 minutes, then add the Arborio and toast for 2 more minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and stir until just dissolved. Begin adding the broth in the same manner, about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir rice continually as the liquid is absorbed. When the rice soaks up most of the liquid and only a bubbly starch remains, add more broth. Continue 1/3 cup at a time until all but 1 cup of the broth has been added. Then add the sliced asparagus and peas. Continue to add 2 more scoops of broth, then add the spinach. Stir in the remaining broth, mascarpone and lemon zest just before serving. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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