Yes, I made risotto again.
On Monday my organic box included a big bag of broad beans. I'd never cooked them before, but having seen them in the markets, I was eager to get my hands on those huge pods.
Broad beans come about five to a pod, lined with a soft fuzz that nestles each bean safely inside. Once you've podded the beans, you then need to parboil the beans to release the seed coating that surrounds each bean, a hard white case that must be removed in all but the youngest immature beans. The bright green beans slip right out after 2-3 minutes in boiling water, followed by a cold water bath.
This means that, from a kilo of beans you'll end up with a tiny portion of actual edible beans. It's a lot of work for such a small amount of payoff.
Is it worth it? Well, the beans were delicious, but not much better than baby lima beans. They were very tender, after only a parboil, but I could have gobbled up the half cup or so of beans in a few minutes.
Since I wanted to share the love, I decided to use them in a risotto, which only needs a smattering of beans, and another vegetable or two, to be complete. In my vegetable bin I found some thin asparagus, about the width of a knitting needle, and with a red onion, this made the perfect spring risotto.
So, if you'll forgive me, here's another risotto recipe, very similar to other risotto recipes I've posted here and here and here. This time I added even more stock, and covered the risotto for longer periods of time between stirs. I think that made it creamier. I added the asparagus at nearly the end, and the broad beans essentially at the end, only warming them up slightly as the beans were plenty tender.
I won't say I'll never cook broad beans again, but I do wonder what persevering soul it was who first discovered the sweet little beans buried underneath all that work.
Asparagus and Broad Bean Risotto
1 red onion, sliced in wedges
about 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
vegetable stock, kept warm
about 2 cups asparagus spears, tough ends removed and cut in half
1 tablespoon margarine
freshly ground pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
3/4 cup broad beans, podded and shelled from about 1 lb of beans
Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet or dutch oven and sauté the red onion, about 5 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat with the oil. Continue to stir for about 3 minutes, over medium heat.
Add the wine and stir.
When the wine is incorporated into the rice, add about ½ cup stock, stirring constantly. Continue to add stock as it’s incorporated into the rice, ¼ cup at a time. (Scoop it from the stock pot with a measuring cup.)
After about 15 minutes, add the asparagus. Stir gently, and continue to add stock as the rice becomes dry.
Put a lid on the pot, stirring only occasionally now. Watch to make sure the rice doesn’t stick or dry out.
Add the margarine, stirring it into the mixture as it melts. Add more liquid, cover, and continue to cook over medium heat.
Add salt and pepper to taste. When the rice is done (after about 25 – 30 minutes altogether), add the broad beans, stirring them into the mixture gently.
Notes on ingredients: Make your own vegetable stock, using carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic cloves, bay leaves, handfuls of herbs, celery (plus leaves), all large vegetables cut in two or three pieces. Cover with plenty of water and cook for 30 minutes or so, keeping the stock warm while you ladle it into the risotto.