Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Risotto

Those of you who are paying attention know that I’ve already strayed from the plan for the week.  But only out of necessity.  You can’t very well make Shrimp and Fava Bean Salad if you can’t find any fresh fava beans.  I looked or called everywhere!  So, substitute early asparagus and sugar snaps and add a little risotto to the mix.  Turns out I’m having a couple of friends over for dinner so the risotto is a more substantive offering anyway.

The trick to a risotto that’s a tribute to Spring is coming up with something that’s light and fresh and still substantive enough to be called dinner.  I think I found it.  Tonight’s risotto included asparagus (earthy), sugar snap peas (sweet), shrimp (fresh), some fresh mozzarella (warm and comforting), and a few squeezes of lemon juice (bright).  The nice thing about vegetables and shrimp in risotto is that you add them in the last few minutes so they end up just steamed, but never over done.  No rubbery shrimp here.  Yum.  And healthy too.  There’s about 1 ounce of mozzarella in the whole pot.  It’s enough to add a little decadence, but not too much fat.  The creaminess of the risotto rounds out the decadent side of the dish and a little freshly grated parmesan adds the hint of salt that you need.

I served this tonight with a side of steamed broccoli that I sauteed with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and a little parmesan.  I don’t normally bother with a side when I make risotto since all the food groups are represented in the main dish, but tonight I had company so I felt like an extra dish was needed.  And let’s be honest, I had broccoli in the house and I didn’t have the stuff to make a salad.

Here’s the recipe, but remember it’s just the base recipe that matters.  Add anything you like.  Use seafood stock for seafood risotto; chicken stock for chicken risotto; and beef stock for beef or mushroom risotto.  Of course vegetarian stock is always an option too.  Make it with raw veggies for a lighter flavor and with roasted veggies for something a little deeper.

Good? Really, really good without being too rich
Easy? Sure. Add liquid, stir; add liquid, stir; and so on
Good for company? The reviews here were good from both sides of the table
Special shopping? Use what ya’ got.

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Risotto

For the stock:
Add the shrimp shells, onion skin, 1 T lemon zest, salt and pepper to 5 cups of water. Simmer 1 hour.

For the vegetables:
1 pound fresh sugar snap peas
Trim the ends and cuct each pea pod into 2 pieces.
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus
Trim the woody stem and cut each stalk into 3-4 pieces

Making the risotto

Ingredients

4 C shrimp stock, heated in a sauce pan
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 C onions, chopped
1/2 C dry white wine
1 C arborio rice
1 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 lb fresh shrimp
Sugar snaps and asparagus, trimmed and cut
1 T fresh lemon juice

Directions

Heat the stock in a sauce pan, keep warm
Heat the oil/butter in a chef’s pan or small stock pot
Add the onions and saute 1-2 minutes, until soft
Add arborio rice, stir to coat the grains
Add wine, stir until liquid is almost all absorbed
Add warm stock 1/2 C at a time
Stir over medium heat after each addition until liquid is almost all absorbed
When risotto is cooked add shrimp and vegetables
Cover and cook an additional 1-3 minutes until shrimp is done and vegetables are crisp tender
Squeeze lemon juice over the finished risotto.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

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