All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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Risotto gets a bad rap for being hard to make. If standing at the stove, stirring, for 20-30 minutes is hard – then I guess risotto is hard but really, how hard is casual stirring? The main mistake people make with risotto is over-cooking so – as soon as it seems al dente – add the final ingredients & serve immediately because it will keep cooking as long as it is warm.
You can use any vegetables you like or lose anything from this recipe that displeases you. The roasted Brussels sprouts are not necessary but they add a nice depth. I suppose you could just chop them raw & stir them in with the carrots – if roasting is a pain in your arse.
This can be made vegan (obviously) by subbing out the dairy with vegan alternatives.
Mixed Vegetable Risotto with Fennel and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Vegan – Vegetarian)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative) – optional
3 TBS butter (or vegan alternative – even olive oil)
1/2 cup dry white wine (not strictly necessary – so – you could sub out with more stock & a squeeze of lemon juice)
4 garlic cloves – minced
1/2 onion – diced
1 cup peas
2 carrots – diced
1 bulb fennel – sliced very thin
12 large Brussels sprouts – trimmed & halved
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar (optional)
If roasting the Brussels sprouts (rather than just tossing them into the mix raw when you throw the carrots in – a viable option) – heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the halved sprouts with olive oil & balsamic & salt & pepper. Lay on a cooking sheet face down (I always use parchment paper because it makes clean-up easy & nothing sticks to it). Roast about 15-20 minutes & then turn them & roast another 10-15 – until they are browned a bit.
Chop them up a bit if you want – but you don’t have to. I did. Set aside.
While those guys are roasting – bring the stock to a boil & then reduce to a simmer.
In another heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots & onions (and raw Brussels sprouts – if you are not roasting them) – and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the fennel & saute another 2 minutes.
Add the garlic & rice & stir to coat. Add the wine (or extra stock & lemon) & cook off the moisture. Then add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time & not adding more until the last was absorbed. Stir as much as possible as the motion breaks down the starches more & makes the risotto creamier – and keeps it from burning. When you are about 1 cup away from going through all the stock – test the firmness of the risotto. It should still have a bit of a bite but, if it is very hard still, add more water or stock to your stock pot & bring it to a boil & then a simmer again. Add the stock until the risotto is just al dente. Stir in the peas & cheese. If it is too thick – add yet more stock. If it is too wet – cook it down a bit.
Serve immediately, garnished with the roasted Brussels sprouts, extra cheese & lots of fresh cracked pepper.