Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strawberry Risotto

I fell in love with risotto when I was in seminary. Graduate students are poor, but if there is one thing that even a graduate student can afford, its rice. Really, that's all risotto is, its just that you need to cook the rice just so, then you can mix in just about anything. 

I used to play it pretty safe, primarily mixing in the usual suspects: mushrooms, asparagus or a little lemon zest. Then last year I saw a recipe for strawberry risotto. Who would have ever thought! The recipe recommended using under-ripe strawberries. This makes them less sweet, more tart and therefore better for a savory dish. 

I have long since lost that recipe, so I'll share with you how I make it now. May is the perfect time of year for this, because, if you're anything like me- you're beginning to crave those sweet summer berries. Here you can satisfy that craving while taking full advantage of the berries that are available now.

serves 4
olive oil
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup aborio rice
1/2 cup dry rose or white wine
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried sweet basil
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus a little to garnish

Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add your chopped green onions. SautĂ© until soft, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat stock.

Add the rice to the pan, and lightly cook with the onions for about 1 minute. Then add the wine, stirring vigorously

When the wine is almost evaporated, add the stock 1/4 cup at a time. Continue stirring vigorously, only adding more stock when the previous is almost entirely absorbed. 

This is the most important part of making risotto and what separates rich, creamy risotto from plain old rice. By constantly stirring the risotto, you release the starches making the finished product very creamy. This is why the risotto you get in a restaurant is so much more expensive then plain rice: its very labor intensive. 

Speaking of restaurants, about a month ago Scott took me to one where I got their risotto. For some reason, they had added heavy whipping cream. This lazy short cut is unacceptable. It gives it a weird pudding consistency and strange sweet taste. Unacceptable. 

You'll know that your risotto is done when it is creamy and the rice is soft. Do not over cook it though, the rice should still be rice.

About 5 minutes before it finished, add your strawberries, lemon zest, basil and parmesan cheese.

Serve immediatly, sprinkling with an extra pinch of parmesan cheese to garnish.

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