For a long time I hesitated to try risottos, even in Italian restaurants. In my mind risottos were a gooey and dry dish of rice, the kind that if you throw it up to the roof it would stick and never come down again...I was wrong.
One day I finally decided to give it a chance and I ordered a curry apple risotto at an Italian restaurant. After the first bite I almost cried of regret for not having tried risotto before...So much time lost...It was creamy, soft, light, balanced...delicious.
Since then I've been making my own creations with risotto, and I do it quite often to compensate all the years avoiding the 'supposedly gooey sticky' dish. This one is one of my favorites and also very well approved by J. It is fresh, colorful and creamy and super easy to do. Also, it is oil-free, salt-free and apart from the arboreo rice, doesn't require any processed ingredients.
Preparing risotto may sound overwhelming at first, but trust me, it just requires a little bit more patient and attention than regular rice. The trick to get a nice and creamy risotto in on the vegetable stock. I always prepare my own with fresh vegetables. For this recipe I used one small zucchini, one small onion, the white part of a leek and one clove of garlic. I like to boil the clove of garlic with the skin because it makes the garlic taste so much better since all the juices are kept inside, making it sweeter. The stock should be kept hot side by side with the risotto, since we're going to add it to the rice little by little till it's done.
Most of the times I don't use any oil for cooking. Instead I add a little bit of water or vegetable stock to the pan and let the chopped onion become transparent, always keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burnt. Then I add the rice and let it toast for a couple minutes. The traditional risottos call for white wine to 'refresh' the rice before starting adding the stock. Instead of wine I use lemon juice for this recipe and let the rice absorb it almost completely before starting to add the stock.
Cooking risotto is just this: adding a scoop of vegetable stock and wait until it has been almost completely absorbed by the rice, stirring occasionally, before adding the next scoop of stock.
Meanwhile, I drain the vegetables - don't forget to collect the stock and put it back to the pan to continue the rice cooking process - and blend them into a nice and smooth puree. There are a lot of risotto recipes out there that include milk creams to create creaminess. Honestly, you don't need any creams. This lovely vegetable puree will do the job.
When the rice is practically done, finish it with the vegetable puree, fresh cooked beans, lemon zest and fresh thyme. Let it cook for a couple minutes more to incorporate the flavors and that's it!
Sprinkle a few more lemon zests and fresh thyme leaves on top and enjoy while still hot! You can keep leftovers in the fridge and warm it up the following day. It will keep the creaminess.
I'm so excited we get to enjoy this for dinner again! Want a bite?