Monday, April 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: Spring Vegetable Risotto With Asparagus, Savoy Spinach And Fresh Goat Cheese! Plus, New Cooking Video--Watch Me Make Risotto!

This is the best risotto I've made in the history of my culinary career.

And I make a ton of risotto, so that's saying a lot.

The inspiration for the dish came from my Top Chef Brother's restaurant, Picco, where they make risotto fresh on the half hour.  I loved the combination of leeks, asparagus and savoy spinach, all of which are in season right now.  It tasted like the very essence of spring.  Further inspiration came in the form of the fresh goat cheese from Soledad Farms that I scooped up at the farmers market.  I felt the tangy, smooth cheese would really compliment the delicate vegetable flavors. 

And finally, I decided to un-meat the dish for Meatless Monday.  You see, risotto is traditionally made using chicken stock.  But instead, I made a vegetable stock from scratch, and I believe that it transformed the dish, gently coaxing out the sweet vegetable flavors.  This made sound challenging, but it's quite simple.  I just tossed a mixture of roughly chopped vegetables from my fridge along with a few herbs into the pan (a bunch of celery tops, onions, carrots, leeks, black peppercorns, a bay leaf and a bunch of thyme), and then gently simmered it for about an hour.  Presto, Chango!  Great stock!

Now the plating also played a role in the awesomeness of this dish!  Further inspired by my brother's food (he served a fresh penne family style with a scoop of ricotta in the middle), I plated this risotto into a huge bowl and placed a scoop of fresh goat cheese into the center.  Not only was it beautiful, but it slowly melted into the dish, and was fun to scoop out and into your bowl.

And check out my new cooking video for GeekWeek's channel on Justin.TV!  You can watch me make this risotto!  Click play below to watch:

Watch live video from geekweek on
Spring Vegetable Risotto With Asparagus, Savoy Spinach And Fresh Goat Cheese
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
3 leeks, tender white and green parts chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups savoy spinach, julinned
1 cup asparagus, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese (chevre)
salt and pepper

To make homemade vegetable stock roughly chop two celery stalks, two carrots, two small onions, one leek.  Also, add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme.  Cover with filtered water and simmer for at least one hour.  Strain and keep warm for risottos (can be made a few days in advance - also, keeps in the freezer for up to six months).

To make the risotto, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Then, stir in the rice, coating it with the oil, and cook for another two minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until absorbed. Once the wine has been absorbed, slowly add the vegetable stock 1/2 at cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.

Once the rice is almost cooked, stir in the asparagus and the spinach. Continue adding stock and cooking until the rice is al dente and the greens are tender (note: you may not use all of the stock).  Once it's cooked, season the ristotto to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, spoon the risotto into a large bowl to serve family style.  Place the goat cheese in the center of the dish.  Top with a little fresh cracked pepper and drizzle with a little good olive oil.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
fresh goat cheese from Soledad Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic savoy spinach, asparagus, garlic and leeks from Hollywood Farmers Market

arborio rice and white wine from Trader Joe's

Wine Pairing
Vegetables are notoriously difficult to pair with wine, so a great trick when pairing with a dish is to pair to another ingredient that is wine friendly.  In this case, that would be the fresh goat cheese.  Traditionally, Sauvignon Blanc is paired with chevre (like from the Loire Valley in France).  Other good choices would be sparkling wine or a non-oaky Chardonnay, which is what I selected to pair with this dish.

We drank The Ojai Vineyard's 2005 Chardonnay, Clos Pepe Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills.  I've been in love with their Pinot Noir for some time, but this is the first white wine I'd tasted from them, and wow, it was stunning!  Full of great acidity and citrus flavors, this wine could almost pass for a Chablis.  It paired beautifully with the delicate risotto, not overpowering it, rather enhancing its flavor.  Robert Parker rated this wine a stellar 93 points and considers it mature and ready to drink.  I love this winery--it's worth checking out!

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to attempt risotto, but it's on my list! This looks great. I love that you list where the ingredients are sourced from; I think knowing that is so important.