Risotto is now considered a specialty dish often featured on menus in upscale eating places. It has, however, been a common everyday food in Italian homes for many years. Cooked in different ways to satisfy various tastes, it is almost as popular as pasta in the Mediterranean diet.
It can be prepared as a simple, meatless, light lunch or as an accompaniment to meat or fish for a fuller multi-course meal.
This time of year, spring asparagus especially lends itself to this creamy, cheesy dish to make it an exceptionally flavorful culinary experience.
- Blanch the asparagus
- In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon butter on medium heat.
- Add the shallots and cook until translucent.
- Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
- While shallots are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
- Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine.
- Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice. Stir until the liquid is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Continue adding 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice at a time, and cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed each time.
- You will stop adding stock when the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.
- With the last ladle of stock, add the asparagus. Turn off the heat. Keep the risotto loose. It thickens a lot while it sits.
- Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add onion salt and pepper to taste.
Last week lamb was on sale (something that does not occur too often), so I happily took advantage of it and bought a nice leg. In general, most people either really like this meat or do not like it at all. Few seem to be neutral about it, mainly, I think, because of its distinctive flavor, which is precisely what makes it appeal to lamb lovers.
I myself prefer it simply roasted or broiled, but for the sake of those whom I knew would like it a little more dressed up I decided to make colorful kabobs with a few favorite vegetables and serve it with Greek rice, the way my father always prepared it.
- The first step is to marinate the lamb preferably overnight, if possible, then cube the vegetables and add to the marinade for whatever length of time is convenient.
- Arrange both meat and vegetables on skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 1 hour.
- Broil for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned and to desired doneness, turning frequently.
- Prepare rice well in advance.
- Saute rice in oil and butter. Add salt, parsley, mint, garlic and water.
- Cover and simmer on low heat untill all liquid is absorbed and rice is thoroughly cooked, adding additional water if needed. The earlier the rice is cooked, the more flavorful it will be when served.