Barbara Kafka

Vegetarian Risotto With Almonds

 (from The Intolerant Gourmet)

Actually this goes beyond vegetarian to vegan. I made it for a dinner party with two vegan friends. I used vegetable broth but commercial is adequate and a garlic broth is excellent if everybody likes garlic—not sharp, but mild from long cooking. This risotto can be stopped about half way through and then finished. It is ideal in Spring when vegetables are young and tender. I used King oyster mushrooms as they don’t get mushy with the longish cooking. Ordinary mushrooms can be substituted; but they should not be added until the peas are. I had the idea for the slivered almonds (out of a can) when I was looking for something to add texture and even nutrition.

½ cup olive oil

2 cups Arborio rice

2/3 pound yellow onion, in ¼” dice (about 1½ cups)

4 ounces king oyster mushrooms, in ¼-inch dice (about 1½  cups)

2 cups white wine

1¼  pounds slim zucchini, ends removed and thinly sliced across (about 4 cups)

6 cups of stock (see above)

4 cups shelled peas

1 pound asparagus before cleaning, hard ends of stems snapped off, peeled, tips (about ¾ cup) reserved, stems cut in ½-inch lengths (about 1 cup)

½ cup coarsely chopped dill fronds

2 tablespoons kosher salt or to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 cup slivered almonds

Use a 14-inch skillet or braising pan or a large wok. Heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Stir in rice and cook until opaque or even slightly tan. Add onions and mushrooms if using the oyster mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent. Stir in 1 cup of the wine and cook until absorbed. Stir in zucchini and two cups of stock. Cook until stock is absorbed. At this point the recipe can wait.

Add 3 cups stock and bring to a boil. Stir and turn until the zucchini begins to look glossy. Stir in peas and 1 cup stock. Boil until liquid is absorbed. Add asparagus stems and 1 cup wine. Cook until the liquid is almost absorbed. Stir in asparagus tips and dill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half of the almonds.

Serve topped—the whole or by the portion—with the remaining almonds.

Serves 8 to 10

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