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Risotto alla Margherita

In Italian cuisine, when a dish is alla margherita, that means it contain ingredients that are red, green and white.  Risotto is one of my favorite foods, and in this variation I combined ingredients readily available during the cold winter months.  In the summer, substitute the sundried tomatoes for fresh cherry or grape tomatoes.  Fresh asparagus and peas are good too, but frozen varieties tend to cost less and have more nutrients.  Feel free to play with the proportions of veggies according to your preferences, or swap out items for ones  you like.

  • 1 large sweet onion, diced

  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, diced

  • 1 - 2 cups frozen peas

  • 10 - 12 stalks of frozen asparagus, snapped and sliced into chunks

  • 1 - 1 and 1/2 cups julienned sundried tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

  • 1 and 1/2 cups arborio rice

  • 4 - 6 cups chicken stock

  • 1 tbsp. butter

  • salt and pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil

In a pot, bring the stock up to a gentle simmer and cover.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter melts.  Add the diced onion and asparagus.  Allow them to cook 8 - 10 minutes over medium-high heat, until the onions are translucent and the asparagus is fork-tender.  Add the peas and the garlic and allow to cook for another 3 - 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add the rice.  Stir the rice and veggies until the outer edge of the rice is translucent and the core of the rice is still opaque.  Working one ladleful at a time, begin to add the hot stock to the skillet.  Add one ladle at a time and stir the rice until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding more.  It is important to keep stirring because the stirring motion causes the rice to release their starches, making the risotto creamy.  Only add enough stock until the rice is cooked all the way through, and is tender.  It will take about 20 minutes for the rice to cook to the correct consistency.  Just before the rice is done, add the sundried tomatoes.  Finish with the mascarpone and parmesean cheeses, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with a sprig of fresh basil.

Buon appetito!


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