Embracing the Season with Spring Risotto!

On this first day of May, we wanted to provide our guests with a sample of something that said “Spring is here!”  Actually, what we really wanted was something to shout out, sing out, with balloons and sparklers and a little jig, “Spring is truly, finally here!”  And we found just the thing in this beautiful and bright risotto dish.  We love this dish immensely and for many reasons: we love the ingredients, we love the process of making it, and we love, love, love the flavor.

Now, we can hear some of you wondering, “Spring risotto?  Isn’t that more of a cold weather food?”  Well, we’re happy to report that risotto is good any time and all the time and can really complement whatever season in which you find yourself.  What makes this particular risotto so springy?  Two words: asparagus & ramps.  Almost nothing says “spring” like asparagus and ramps (except rhubarb, of course, which is delicious but wouldn’t taste at all good in this dish) and we’re very lucky to have both here in our bountiful Produce Department!  Our wild ramps are sourced locally- and our asparagus will be soon, too- and since they’re not around for very long, we recommend getting them while you can.  No ramps where you are?  No problem!  Just substitute chives for that sweet, onion-y flavor.  Preserved lemon, an ingredient commonly found in Middle Eastern and North African dishes, is surprisingly versatile and its über salty-lemony character adds extra brightness to this already lively risotto.  And last but not least, freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano- the King of Cheeses- ups the risotto’s creaminess and sweetness in a way only Parmigiano Reggiano can.

Making risotto is a meditation.  It requires constant attention, consistent stirring, and (hooray!) frequent tasting.  Once your rice is coated and warmed in luscious butter, the meditation begins: you stir, you add one ladle of broth, you repeat this process again and again and again, and it’s just you and the risotto.  Blissful cooking.  When the risotto has the perfect balance of creaminess (lots) and toothiness (just a touch), you toss in your asparagus, ramps, and lemon, and cook for just a few more minutes.  Adding these ingredients toward the end of the process really keeps their flavors fresh and it also prevents the small pieces of asparagus from being overcooked.  At the very end, you mix in the cheese along with a tad more butter, and presto!  Spring Risotto.

And what a lovely, bright, and complex risotto it is!  At first, you taste the smooth and salty rice tempered by the sweet Parmigiano Reggiano, but then you take a bite and WOW: crunchy, vegetal asparagus!  Not long after, the flavors mellow out as the ramps come to the forefront, but then what’s this?  Lemon!  Subtle but tart and a perfect finish.  You can really taste Spring with this dish, and that’s exactly what we wanted. Find the full recipe by click here.