Early spring vegetables are limited, so use whatever fresh nibbles you can find in this dish. I like snap peas and asparagus but you can use any combination of fresh shelling peas, favas, ramps – whatever looks good.
1 Tbspn olive oil
2 Tbspn butter, divided
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
bowl of ice water
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup fresh snap peas, de-stringed and sliced on the diagonal
5 stalks of asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 2″ spears
1 cup dry white wine
Â½ cup grated pecorino romano, grana padana, parmigiano reggiano or other hard, salty, Italian grating cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, heat your olive oil and butter over medium high, and sauté your onion, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two, till golden but not brown.
While those are sautéing, bring a quart of water to boil in a small pot for blanching your vegetables. Place your broth, covered, in a small pot and bring to a simmer.
When the water comes to a boil, blanch your vegetables for 1 minute, then drain and plunge into the ice water to arrest cooking.
When the onion and garlic are nice and golden, place your risotto in the pot and toast 2 minutes.
Add the white wine and, stirring constantly, simmer till mostly absorbed. Add a half cup of hot broth at a time, turning down the heat if necessary so that it is simmering gently, and waiting until it has almost completely absorbed before adding more. About 30 minutes should have passed since you added the wine, and your rice should be almost tender, just this side of al dente.
When the stock is almost entirely absorbed, add your lemon juice and blanched vegetables, stirring till incorporated. Then stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and the grated cheese and stir vigorously. Once the dairy binds with the starches in the rice, your risotto should take on a thick, creamy texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon onto warmed dishes, topping with a sprinkle of lemon zest!