Making risotto is a lot like composing… it takes time and good ingredients. It’s the kind of dish that can be adapted to many different proteins and subtly morphed by the inclusion of an almost infinite list of add-ins.

Not long ago I made a dinner for friends that was a riff on a meal from the SOBO Cookbook (SOBO is a well-known restaurant on Tofino)—since I could get almost none of the ingredients called for in the recipe. My version featured salmon (baked in the oven with a layer of pesto on top) and a lemon risotto that included mushrooms, asparagus and peas.

This recipe will feed 8.

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 7-8 cups of stock (whatever kind you like)
  • a cup of white wine
  • about a cup of chopped onion or shallot
  • a small container of mushrooms (sliced)
  • a bunch of asparagus
  • a cup and a half of peas
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • a stick of butter
  • a cup or so of grated parmigiano

Heat the oven to about 400 degrees. Chop the asparagus into pieces about an inch and a half long. Mix them with some olive oil and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When the oven is hot, roast them for about 12 minutes. While they are roasting, sauté the mushrooms until they have given up their moisture and have browned a little. Cook your peas (I usually used frozen, so just put in the microwave for a minute or so). The vegetables can then be set aside while you cook the rice.

Warm the stock on the stove.

Sauté the onions a bit in a splash of olive oil and bit of butter until they begin to soften. I usually use a wide flat bottom non-stick pan. Add the rice and stir until the edges become translucent (two or three minutes). Then pour in the wine and let it absorb into the rice.

From this point, I usually add the broth about a cup at a time until each is almost absorbed. As you get close to the end of the broth, start checking to see if it is almost cooked (it should still be a bit chewy, but not hard). The dish should be quite creamy (not a loose as soup, but no

When you feel it is ready, add in your stick of butter, once it has melted into the texture add the parmigiano. Stir until it is evenly distributed, then do the same with each of your vegetables (asparagus, peas and mushrooms). Finish off with the lemon zest and juice.

Serve immediately.

If you are trying to time several dishes to serve together, you can finish the risotto up to just before the last cup of broth, then let it cool. Add the last bit of broth as you start warming it up and complete as above just before serving.

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