Monday, June 13, 2005

Leek and Artichoke Risotto

Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess that I have a problem. I am, perhaps, overly fond of risotto. Everwhere I look I see bright, tasty veggies that clearly need to be part of what is a truly wonderful dish. For example, the photo above shows leek and artichoke risotto.
I cannot recall why I originally bought leeks, but inspiration struch when I peered into my refrigerator and wondered what to make for dinner. Risotto was my first thought. I added canned artichoke hearts because they have a nice, slightly lemony flavor and involved no additional cooking. You could certainly use fresh artichokes, but cook them first. The only change I might make to this is to add a bit of lemon juice, with the artichokes, to brighten the final flavor. This is not a necessary change, though.
Instead of adding butter, cream or cheese to this, I folded in a bit of mascarpone before serving. In all honesty, the amount given below is an estimate. It never takes much to enhance the already creamy texture of risotto, but feel free to add as much or as little as you like. If you want a totally vegetarian dish, leave it out entirely. You won't be disappointed with this one.

Leek and Artichoke Risotto
2-3 large leeks, white and light green parts finely chopped (1 1/2- 2 cups)
2-3 tsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tsp lemon zest
1 cup arborio rice
3-4 cups vegetable stock or water (I often use a combination)
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained and chopped (8 small-medium hearts)
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp mascarpone (or parmesan)
Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce to a simmer and cover.
Sautee leeks in olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and lemon zest and sautee for 1 minute.
Add rice and allow to toast, while stirring, for 2-3 minutes. If the grains where white, they should now be more clear with a bright white dot in the center.
Add vegetable stock in 1/2 cup additions, adding more each time the prior addition has been absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently or continuously. Keep adding broth until rice is tender. It should take approximately 3 1/2 cups and take 25-30 minutes.
Stir in artichoke hearts (and lemon juice, if you decide to add some) and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until artichokes are warm, then remove from heat.
Stir in mascarpone and serve.
Serves 3 as a main, 4 as a side.