Spring Risotto

“When it comes to food, I love cooking as much as I love eating. My family is Italian so basically all of my memories revolve around food and I am so grateful for that”

Jo Leggiero is an Australian/Italian who lives in Dublin and writes about fashion, food, beauty and design on her great blog, lovetomtom.

She has kindly shared her recipe for the perfect spring dish – one which can be rustled up and enjoyed as a light lunch or (wishful thinking) in the garden with a glass of white wine on a sunny evening!

A belly full of risotto

Asparagus, mushroom, lemon and mint risotto

Food needs to look as good as it tastes and this recipe was everything I wanted to create. Better still, it was easy! When I think of risotto, I imagine creamy richness, followed by fullness and of course effort. Risotto is not a five-minute dish but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. I was in the mood for comfort food but not necessarily the heaviness of a cream risotto and this version ticks all the boxes.

Alongside the asparagus I have a fabulous mint plant and what better things to match it with than mushrooms and lemon. Oh, and don’t forget the parmesan cheese! The green of the asparagus against the vibrant lemon and mint leaves had me salivating. The challenge I faced was how to get a creamy texture to this visually stunning dish without the use of cream? Here’s how.

Ingredients  (serves 2, approximately)

splash of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

bunch of asparagus

punnet of mushrooms

1 lemon (juice and quarter of the rind)

1 cube of vegetable stock

white wine

parmesan cheese

sea salt + pepper

handful of fresh mint

1 cup of arborio rice

Heat the olive oil in a deep fry pan. Add the garlic and cook until golden but not brown.

Add the chopped asparagus and mushrooms and cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the lemon rind and a splash of white wine. Cook until some of the liquid has reduced.

Next place the uncooked rice into the pan as well as the rind of the parmesan cheese.

Prepare the vegetable stock as per instructions. Pour a small amount of stock into the pan and gently stir. I like to keep the pan on a medium-to-low heat at this point.

After a few minutes you will see the liquid absorb and that’s when you add a little more stock. Again once you’ve poured a bit more stock, stir gently.

While pouring in the stock, add the lemon juice, mint leaves, grated parmesan cheese and a bit more wine if you fancied.

Repeat the pour and stir combination until the rice is cooked. Do not let all of the liquid absorb as this is how you get the creamy consistency.

Once you have the consistency you like, remove the parmesan rind and serve with a few extra mint leaves, some grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

As you can see, risotto doesn’t have to be difficult or heavy for that matter. The crisp flavours of the asparagus and lemon go so well with the mint and parmesan cheese. The final result is a delight for both eyes and bellies. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.