Spring Green Risotto

Whenever I heard “risotto” I always figured it meant “super complicated fancy food”.  But when I saw Ina Garten make it on Barefoot Contessa, I knew it was as easy as it looked.  It just takes a little babysitting on the stove.  And it is SO worth it!  Such an amazing comfort food.  It’s one of my favorite dishes EVER! We eat it as a meal, but you could have smaller portions and use it as a side.  The key ingredient, in my opinion, is homemade chicken stock.  It just improves this dish so much, giving it a depth of flavor unequaled in any store-bought stock, broth, or bouillon cube!

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
3 cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks, using white and green parts)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 quarts simmering chicken stock (homemade if you can at all help it!)
1 pound thin asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1 1/2″ lengths
10 ounces frozen peas
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving if desired)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives

1.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and saute for 5-6 minutes until tender.  Add the rice and stir till all the rice has been coated with oil/butter.
2.  Add a ladle of chicken stock and simmer over medium to low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the stock has been absorbed.  Continue adding chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be nearly absorbed before adding more.
3.  When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the asparagus, peas, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, until rice is tender but still firm (another 10-15 minutes).
4.  Whisk lemon juice and mascarpone cheese together in a small bowl.  When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture, Parmesan cheese, and chives.  Allow to set aside a few minutes before serving.

Source:  adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe

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