29 July 2011

Double Take: Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

Since my first successful foray into risotto well over a year ago, I’ve taken to making it frequently, particularly when shell peas are in season! There is just something about sitting down with a big bag of peas, and opening each pod individually to get the green globes, all lined up and sitting pretty, out of their homes and into the bowl. Some might end up not making it to the bowl, but that’s okay. The risotto will still be yummy.

I’ve developed a bit of a carefree attitude to making risotto these days. If I’m just making a pea risotto, I’ll throw a cinnamon stick into the chicken broth for about 10 minutes to give it extra flavor. I no longer measure, but just go with what feels/looks right. Don't worry though, I've left the original recipe's measurements intact so you get a good reference for starting out! 

There is one thing you really need to look out for with risotto: salt. It can be hidden everywhere. Check your chicken broth before you use it: is it above 700mg/serving? If so, it’s not low sodium. I managed to find a brand of broth in Winston-Salem that just had 70mg/serving, but anything under 700mg/serving can be labeled low-sodium. Chicken broth is like liquid gold here in Germany: it’s well over $5 for just under 2 cups. Yikes. So when I don’t get the chance to make it myself, I use bouillon. Sodium in bouillon can be over 1300mg/serving. Double yikes! So, I tend to dilute my bouillon in order to reduce the salt. I’d rather need to add salt than have it too salty. And goat cheese and parmesan (both very tasty ingredients) have plenty of salt on their own, thus you’ll want it slightly under salted before you add the cheeses. So, watch out, taste as you go, and use a light hand when (and if) you add salt.

Watch the rice grains plump!

Risotto Primavera
Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 45 Minutes, Difficulty: Easy, Servings: 8

5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (mushroom broth would work well too)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 whole carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup cauliflower pieces
1/2 cup broccoli pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*
1 tablespoon olive oil (additional)
1 tablespoon butter (additional)
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (additional), or more to taste*
1 cup fresh peas, shelled
4 ounces, weight goat cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Optional vegetables to substitute for any of the above: mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus

*These measurements come from Pioneer Woman. She uses a chicken broth with 150mg/serving. Adjust the salt according to your chicken broth. I did not need any added salt.

Pour broth into a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Add diced onions and diced carrots. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Add cauliflower and cook for a minute. Add broccoli and cook for 30 seconds. Add squash and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in salt and stir. Remove from pan and put on a plate. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the same pan. Heat over medium-low heat. Add rice and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add half the wine and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir and cook until liquid is absorbed. Over the next 30 to 45 minutes, add 1 cup of simmering broth at a time, stirring and cooking until each addition of broth has absorbed. Add other half of wine and cook until absorbed. Add green onions and peas, stirring to combine. Taste to make sure rice is the right texture; add another helping of broth if rice has too much bite to it. Check for salt content and add more salt if necessary.

Once rice is cooked, remove from heat. Stir in goat cheese, Parmesan, and vegetables until all goat cheese is combined.

Serve on a plate or bowl with extra parmesan and goat cheese on the side.

Got crazy amounts of leftovers? Check out this post by one of my fellow Daring Cooks to see how you can jazz up your extra risotto the next day!

I normally abhor peas and carrots together. This dish is the exception.

I love making risotto. Sitting over the stove and stirring a pot is very soothing to me. Sometimes my thoughts keep me company, and sometimes I let Jennifer Nettles do the job. From Soul Miner’s Daughter to Jennifer Nettles Band to Sugarland, she’s got a voice that pleases my bones. And as much as I love standing and stirring, I tend to keep my heat at medium and churn out my risotto a bit faster than this recipe says. I really tried to take 45 minutes this time, but I got a little impatient. I prefer it at 35 minutes.

The original recipe calls for onions and green onions. We learned from this recipe that we aren't huge fans of onions in risotto, so I left them out. 

I’d never thought to add goat cheese to risotto, so I’m very thankful that Ree encouraged me (and all of her other readers) to do so. It adds an extra umph to the risotto that is very pleasing. J If you decide to eat your leftovers plain, take some extra goat cheese to sprinkle on. Oh yeah, and this stuff reheats really well in the microwave. I found the cauliflower faded into the background when the risotto was fresh, but stood out a bit more in the leftovers. If you are cauliflower wary, please plan accordingly.

Make-again-please: 1 vote!
After-writing-this-post-I’m-changing-tonight’s-dinner-plans-to-risotto: 1 vote!

To see Tabitha's take on Risotto Primavera, head on over to Double the Garlic!

Check out all those gorgeous fresh peas!


  1. Wow, I'm really pleased that you're making risotto without directions. :) I liked throwing Feta in there. It gave it a different tang. What type of goat cheese did you select?

  2. Veggie risotto = perfection!


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