Although primavera means spring, this is also a great risotto to make in summer. Also because in March and April, certainly in this part of the world, the vegetables used for this are not in season yet. There are many versions of this risotto, because there are many vegetables to choose from. Select three or four vegetables that have different colors and flavors, such as garden peas, green beans, runner beans, artichoke hearts, asparagus, carrots, turnips, bell pepper, zucchini, fava beans (shelled twice). The vegetables should be cooked until tender but firm to the bite (al dente), which is why tomatoes or eggplants are less appropriate. You can keep it completely vegetarian by using vegetable stock, or add another layer of flavor by using chicken stock. For this rendition I used red bell pepper, garden peas, green beans, carrots, and homemade chicken stock. In any case, this risotto is a great way to celebrate spring or summer.
For 2 servings
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice, I used carnaroli
450 grams (1 lb) mixed spring/summer vegetables
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
1 shallot or small onion
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp butter
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
baking soda (optional)
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley or mint or basil, or a mixture
Dice the vegetables and parcook them individually in salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. If you add a pinch of baking soda to the water, the vegetables will cook more quickly and retain a brighter color. Plunge in cold water to stop the cooking and allow to drain.
Peas (if using) obviously do not need dicing (but they may need shelling if you buy them in the pods; fava beans need to be shelled twice). Unless you harvest them yourself, frozen peas are better than fresh because they deteriorate quickly after they have been harvested. This is of course under the assumption that they have been frozen promptly after harvest.
Snap the ends off green beans (if using) and chop them into short lengths, about the size of their width.
Do not parcook bell peppers (if using) in water, but in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
When the bell peppers are tender but still firm to the bite, add the other vegetables…
…and stir over high heat for a minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside.
Bring the stock to a boil and keep it simmering.
In a thick-bottomed wide frying pan, stir a minced shallot or small onion with some salt until it is soft and fragrant.
Add the rice and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes, but make sure the onion doesn’t brown.
Add 60 ml of dry white wine, and stir over medium heat until it has been absorbed.
Add a ladle of hot stock…
…and stir over medium heat until it has been absorbed.
Keep adding stock and stirring until it has been absorbed for about 15 minutes. If you run out of stock, switch to hot water.
Taste the rice. When it is almost tender, add a final ladle of stock…
…and the reserved vegetables.
Stir over medium heat until the rice is tender but firm to the bite, adding more stock (or water) if needed.
The risotto should not be soupy but not too dry either at this point, so add more stock (or water) if needed. Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of butter and a handful of freshly grated parmigiano.
Add mint and/or parsley and/or basil.
Stir to incorporate and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.
Serve the risotto on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.
Did you know you can eat fava bean pods? Their flavor is similar to that of French beans, but less pronounced. In this pasta with fava bean pods they are served with pancetta, pecorino and fresh chilli pepper.