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Print Risotto primavera

Risotto primavera is a classic Italian dish, using any seasonal spring veg. Here we’ve chosen asparagus, broad beans and spring onions, adding a fresh herby hit to finish off the dish. The onion, celery and carrot trinity are known in Italian as ‘soffritto’ (literally, ‘slow-fried’); they give a good flavour base to any risotto, soup or stew. The two minute wait at the end, stirring in butter and Parmesan to finish is known as the ‘mantecura’; it adds the final creamy touch to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small onions
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 50g butter
  • 250g asparagus
  • 350g broad beans in their pods
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 2 low salt vegetable stock cubes
  • 75ml white wine
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 good sprig mint
  • 15g dill
  • 30g parsley
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Peel and finely dice the onion(s). Wash and finely dice the celery stick. Wash, peel and finely dice the carrot. Put a pan of water on to boil for the broad beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and half the butter in a good-sized, heavy-based pan.
  2. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Fry on a low heat, stirring now and then, for 15 minutes. Add a splash of water at any stage if it looks like catching. Meanwhile, wash the asparagus, then snap off and discard the woody ends. Cut into 3-4cm pieces.
  3. Pod the broad beans. Wash 2-3 spring onions and finely slice them. Boil a kettle of water. Put the stock cubes in a heatproof bowl or jug (or use another pan). Add 1 litre of boiled water to the stock cubes, stir and keep to one side. Once the pan of water comes to the boil, get a large bowl of cold water ready.
  4. Add the broad beans to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Drain, then pop them in the cold water to cool them. After 15 minutes, add the risotto rice to the onion, carrot and celery. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the white wine. Stir until the wine has been absorbed.
  5. Gradually add ladles of stock, stirring often, letting each ladle absorb before adding the next, for 20 minutes. Depending on your pan and heat, you may not need it all, or add a little water if you run out.
  6. Take the time in between stirring the rice to peel the outer skins off the broad beans, to reveal the bright green bean inside. Discard the skins (this double-podding is optional, but I prefer just the inner bright green bean).
  7. Wash the mint, pick off the leaves, lay them on top of each other, roll them up and shred them. Wash and shake half the bag of dill and all the bag of parsley dry. Roughly chop both. After 20 minutes, stir the asparagus and spring onions into the risotto.
  8. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes or so, until the rice is tender but still with some bite (al dente). Stir in the broad beans, half the Parmesan and the rest of the butter. Leave to stand for 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded mint, chopped dill and parsley.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with the rest of the Parmesan.

Cooks notes

I’ve added a note in the method to double-pod the broad beans, removing the outer, tougher skins, but if you don’t mind them and can’t be bothered to do this, it is optional. If you're cooking for vegetarians, make sure you use a vegetarian Parmesan.
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