When making risotto, choose any vegetable that is in season. It is a wonderful way of creating exciting new combinations of flavors that will be yours to pass on. It can become a spring pea risotto, an autumn squash risotto, a winter beet risotto, or a summer corn risotto. This risotto is also a wonderful way to use leftover vegetables.
- ½ pound broccoli (about 1 medium-sized stalk)
- 1 cup blanched fava beans or frozen baby lima beans
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced scallions, green included (about 6)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 ½ cups Arborio or carnaroli rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6½ cups hot vegetable stock or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
- ½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano, or pecorino romano cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim the broccoli florets from the stems, keeping them small enough to fit on a spoon (you should have about 1 ¼ cups). Peel the stems with a small knife or vegetable peeler, then cut them into 2-inch pieces, steam the florets just until bright green, about 1 minute. Steam the stems until very tender, about 4 minutes. Reserve the steaming liquid.
Transfer the stems to a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. You will probably have to add some of the steaming liquid to make a smooth mixture. Scrape out the puree into a small bowl, and set the florets and puree aside.
If using the baby lima beans, cook them in a small saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain them thoroughly and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole or pot over medium heat, add the scallions and shallot and sauté until translucent, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges become translucent. 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, and stir well until evaporated. Add ½ cup of the hot stock and the ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until all of the stock has been absorbed.
Continue to add hot stock in small batches—just enough to completely moisten the rice—and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed. After the risotto has cooked for 12 minutes, stir in the broccoli purée and the favas or limas. About 3 minutes after that, stir in the broccoli florets. Stir constantly, and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the stock, until the rice mixture is creamy but al dente. This will take about 18 minutes from the first addition of stock.
Remove the casserole from the heat. Whip in the butter first, until melted, then the grated cheese. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve immediately, ladled into warm shallow bowls.