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A Fish Dinner in Memison

The Pope's Risotto

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by , April 28th, 2008 at 02:26 PM (498 Views)
I went to the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market on Sunday morning, and they had the first asparagus of the season as well as ramps. Since I was going up to Micro Center in Rockville anyway, I stopped at the Yekta Persian grocery and bought fresh fava beans too.

This recipe is from the New York Times; it was served to the Pope on his recent visit:
Mostly, the Vatican’s instructions reflected the digestive needs of a man who had just turned 81 and was at the end of an intense road trip. He wanted food that was light and seasonal. ... Besides security checks as each dish was prepared, the most important edict was this: The pope couldn’t handle spices.
The Pope’s Risotto
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich
Time: 45 minutes

For the ramp "pesto":
½ cup (packed) ramp leaves or young leeks or chives
1½ cups (packed) spinach or Swiss chard leaves
⅓ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed.

For the risotto:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup minced scallions (about 6 scallions)
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
6½ cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ cup fresh shelled peas, or frozen
½ cup asparagus, sliced on bias in ½-inch chunks and blanched for two minutes
1 cup fava beans, shelled, blanched, skins removed (or use one extra half cup each of peas and asparagus)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup grated grana padano or parmesan
Ground black pepper to taste.

1. For pesto: Put vegetables and salt in a blender or small food processor. With machine running, add oil slowly. Process into a rough paste. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

2. For risotto: In a heavy, wide, 3- to 4-quart casserole or pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook scallions and shallots together until translucent, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat and cook until edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Pour wine into pot and stir well until absorbed. Add ½ cup hot stock and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed into rice. Add another half cup stock and stir so rice remains moist. Stir in peas, asparagus and favas. Keep adding small amounts of stock, stirring constantly so rice slowly absorbs liquid. Rice should simmer very gently and become creamy but al dente. This will take a total of about 18 minutes.

4. Remove pot from heat and quickly stir in ramp pesto. Add butter and continue to stir quickly until melted; then mix in ½ cup cheese. Taste and add remaining salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, ladled into warm shallow bowls. Top with remaining cheese.

Yield: 6 servings.
Risotto is a pain in the ass because you have too keep stirring, but it was delicious. Too good for His Holiness.

We had it with sausages as a side dish as a semi-ironic tribute.
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