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Easy Summer Recipe: Vegetable Risotto

Mmmmm, risotto. One of my all-time favourite dishes. And so versatile, you can personalize it anyway you like. An ex-beau first taught me how to make risotto, and for that alone, I am eternally grateful. While I think risotto is the simplest rice dish you can make, it does take a little extra time simply because of the way you cook arborio rice. As for the veggies, grab whatever you have. But I’d stay away from things like carrots. Can you image… carrot risotto? Ewe.

I whipped-up this tasty dish last night. There’s no formal recipe, just use what you have available. The only thing that would have made it better was mushrooms.  To stay “healthy”, I paired the risotto with a lettuce (home grown!) and spinach salad, with tomatoes, and cucumber (also home grown!) tossed in a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a few leaves of lemon thyme (home grown again!), a dash each of Italian seasoning and salt, and some fresh cracked black pepper.

Vegetable Risotto
1 cup Arborio rice
2 14oz cans low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped (or 1 small onion, any colour)
3-5 basil leaves, cut chiffonade
1-3 stems lemon thyme, (use leaves only)
1-2 zucchini and squash, cut into quarters (use as many or as few as you like)
1-2 cups green beans, ends removed, cut into about 1″ pieces (use as many or as few as you like)
olive oil

This recipe is all about using what you have. If you prefer to use other herbs, go for it! If you have other vegetables available, use ’em! A really great addition to this recipe is mushrooms or a grated hard cheese (such as pecorino romano or parmesan.)

Heat olive oil in pan on medium-high heat. When a splash of water sizzles, it’s time.  Add onions and stir as they soften. Reduce heat if onions start to burn.  Once onions are soft (shouldn’t take too long), add arborio rice, along with another table spoon or so of olive oil. Stir rice until it starts to brown. Once the arborio browns, add about a 1/2 cup of chicken broth. This is when the “finesse” of risotto making comes into play.  As the rice absorbs the broth, add a little bit more broth and stir to prevent rice from sticking. Continue to add broth little by little until the rice is al dente (firm, but not hard.) It’s a slow process, but well worth the effort.

Once you’ve added about half of the broth, stir in garlic. Continue adding broth to rice until you have about 1/2 to 1/4 cup remaining. Stir in vegetables and last of broth; cover pan.  If you’re using mushrooms, wait until the vegetables are tender before adding (mushrooms cook very quickly).  Let rice and veggies simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring as needed.

Once vegetables are tender and the rice has absorbed all of the broth and vegetable juices, stir in herbs, and mushrooms or cheese (if using). Serves 2-4, (depending on your appetite!)

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