Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summertime Risotto

Inspired by a roadside produce stand, I felt the urge to include one of my favorite vegetables in a classic dish. Bright yellow squash, crisp green baby asparagus and farm-raised salmon make this risotto a fresh and colorful plate sure to impress!

Coming home to Huntsville from Birmingham in the middle July, you are sure to pass several local produce stands with some of the most flavorful fruits and vegetables. It's tempting to overlook everything and go straight for the peaches, but something about produce shopping in the sunlight makes the entire assortment look irresistible.

One vegetable in particular caught my eye: yellow squash. It has always been one of my favorites, so I bought it without any particular plans for it. It wasn't until a few days later that I realized I'd never attempted to cook the infamous but delicious rice dish, risotto.

After a little research on the technique, I felt confident about incorporating my beautiful squash along with some other key ingredients into this tasty dish.


4 cups chicken stock
2 cups arborio rice
2 plump yellow squash
1 bundle baby green asparagus
1 diced white onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb farm-raised fresh salmon

First things first: put your chicken stock in a large pot and simmer. 
Next, prepare your vegetables by dicing the onion into small uniform pieces, dicing the squash into bite sizes chunks, and the asparagus into 1-inch long stems.
Now it's time to get the risotto started. To prepare, you want to heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large pot. When the butter melts, add your diced onion. After the onions have become translucent, add the arborio rice. Over medium heat, toast the rice for a few minutes. Now you are ready to add the wine! Be careful, because it will evaporate quickly! Set this aside so you can prep the rest of the ingredients.
In the meanwhile, let's prepare our fish! For this particular dish, I like to keep it simple, by only using a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place your fish on a piece of foil and put it in a pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

For the asparagus, you want to blanch the tough stems in salted water. Leave the tips aside, as they are more tender and don't need to cook as long. Boil the stems for 5 minutes, then place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and keep them a bright green color.
Because squash cooks pretty quickly, you only need to saute' it for a couple minutes. So, in a small saute' pan add 1 tbsp olive oil, squash, and asparagus tips. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Now that our risotto components are individually ready, it is time to get the risotto going. First, get your toasted rice mixture back up to heat and cover with already heated chicken stock (about 2 ladles or 1 cup). Stir the pot until the liquid evaporates.Repeat this process 2 ladles at a time until the rice is al dente.
After your last ladle of stock, add your squash and asparagus. Now is the time to salt and pepper your risotto to taste.
After most of the liquid has evaporated from the rice, add 1 1/2 cups of the fresh grated Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. 
After you have mixed all the last ingredients, spoon some risotto onto a plate, top with the baked salmon and garnish with Parmesan. Enjoy with a glass of white wine!

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Looks amazing! So excited that you started a blog!