Spring is here. The trees are back to being lush and green, not that they ever really went a big change here in Arizona. We don’t really get seasons here in Phoenix, it’s either mild or miserably hot. I do get to enjoy spring seasonal foods though. Asparagus, artichokes, and strawberries are some of my favorites. I’m bound to enjoy anything that has the word “primavera” in it. That usually means green freshness will ensue. This recipe is no different. It’s fresh and colorful and you would never guess it’s made with brown rice. No endless stove-top stirring either. Which means more time for spring cleaning, right? Boo.
Taste: You can hardly tell this risotto is made with brown rice (and no butter). It’s cheesy and fresh with lovely craveworthy flavor.
Texture: The rice is tender and creamy while the veggies are perfectly crisp yet cooked.
Ease: The dish takes at least an hour, but most of it is inactive time (unlike most risotto).
Appearance: I love the pops of green and red!
Pros: Healthier and easier than traditional risotto (it bakes in the oven instead of requiring constant attention on the stove-top).
Would I make this again? Yes.
Baked Risotto Primavera
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup short grain brown rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh green onions or chives
Zest of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or oven-safe deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake until the rice is just tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Shortly before the rice is done, steam asparagus, peas, and bell pepper until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
Fold the steamed vegetables, Parmesan, parsley, green onions, lemon zest, and pepper into the risotto. Serve immediately.