I love summer foods. I love fresh vegetables grown either in my garden or some other neighborhood locale, and I love the brightness that fresh herbs add to my cooking – although I really did not get my extensive garden into the ground this summer, I do have a pretty righteous potted herb garden, we’ll see how many of those herbs I can get to keep growing once I bring them inside…
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Risotto. I think that sometimes people are reluctant to make or eat risotto in the summer, but this is my “pitch” that risotto can be enjoyed any time of year. Yes, it is warm and hearty in the winter, but it also can be delightfully fresh flavored and is a fairly simple “one pot” kind of dish for easy summertime cooking. In fact, if you have one of those fancy pants gas grills with a side burner, this would be a great way to show off grilled summer vegetables.
Anyway, the risotto above is “summertime harvest” because it features some of my favorite summertime vegetables: zucchini, asparagus, and peas along with some fresh mint and lemon to provide bright fresh flavor. I actually made it in two pots, because I decided for last night I wanted to saute the vegetables using the lemon juice to really infuse the vegetables with the lemon flavor as much as I could, but didn’t want the lemon to overwhelm the risotto.
Summertime Harvest Risotto
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine (we used pinot grigio)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 zucchini, diced into maybe 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup peas
- 6-8 asparagus spears, trimmed, tips cut off, and then diced into about 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 lemon (zest it first, then juice it)
- 1 big bunch mint, chiffonade cut (thin strips, like confetti)
- freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- salt, pepper to taste
- Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-low heat, add 1/2 the minced garlic & all of the minced shallot and allow to cook 10-15 minutes until softened, but not browned.
- Add rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring continuously, 2 minutes
- Add white wine, and cook, stirring frequently, until almost all liquid is absorbed
- Add one ladle of veggie stock and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost all absorbed
- Repeat with veggie stock until all is used (should be 4 or 5 ladles between the 2 cups of stock)
- When the last ladle of liquid goes into the risotto, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, add remaining garlic, vegetables, lemon juice, and saute 2-3 minutes until cooked al dente. Remove from heat.
- If you are cooking alone, the final few minutes of cooking will involve you stirring the risotto with one hand and the vegetables with the other. When the vegetables are done, stir 1/2 the lemon zest and 1/2 the mint chiffonade into the veggies.
- Season both veggies and risotto to taste with salt and/or pepper.
- To serve, ladle risotto onto dish, top with some vegetables and garnish with remaining mint, lemon zest, and grated parmesan.