Fashion, food, and home design mavens follow Mother Nature for colour and texture cues. Spring is here and this is what’s up first. Following on the tail of Maple Syrup, you’ll see wild ramps and leeks sprouting in nearby forests just about now. Replace the tired onion with the fresh, local, and seasonal leeks. I love them in a risotto, so I've included my risotto recipe below. Go for the spring variation with leeks, peas and asparagus.
My Favourite Risotto Recipe
This basic risotto recipe has endless variations. Knowing the basics means you’ll never be without a great supper idea. Mushroom risotto is a mid-week staple in our home. Everyone loves it, and all I need is good-quality pantry ingredients and a little time to stand and stir. When the kids ask about the little brown pieces (mushrooms), I stretch the truth just a bit—“it’s just part of what comes from the earth”—and they gobble the risotto up.
RECIPE: ASPARAGUS RISOTTO (SERVES 3 OR 4)
5 to 6 cups (1.25 to 1.5 L) low-sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
3 tbsp (50 mL) butter
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped (variation – seasonal wild leeks)
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped cremini mushrooms (or other seasonal spring vegetable – peas or asparagus)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or arborio rice
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer.
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the butter over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until mushrooms are softened.
Stir in rice. Let rice fry a bit with the onions, stirring often. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add wine and keep stirring,letting liquid cook off.
Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of hot stock. Turn down the heat to a brisk simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Stir until almost all the stock is absorbed but the rice is not dry, then add another 1/2 cup (125 mL) of stock, stirring constantly. Carry on adding stock until rice is soft but still has a slight bite and there’s still a bit of liquid in the pan. This will take 17 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Quickly stir in the remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter and the Parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir gently. Serve immediately so the risotto retains its creamy texture.
Spring Variation: substitute wild spring leeks for onion and peas and asparagus spears for mushrooms.
Spring is also the time to refresh your culinary repertoire and stock up on fresh new cookbooks to inspire (and dress up your coffee table). Below is my round up of fresh new cookbooks for this season. My criteria: simple, usable, inspiring, beautiful (photos are important to inspire), fresh and vegetable-forward as we enter spring. So get inspired, try them all, and pass it on.
PICKS BY TRISH
Springs’ Newest Cookbooks: Spring’s freshest cookbooks to inspire the tired kitchen and pretty up the coffee table.
Malibu Farm (not new, but I love her Argentinian roots immersed in her Malibu place)
Kinfolk Table (again not new, but this US West coast Scandi-style gathering just about sums up my love of the gathering and importance of the collaborative collection of most loved recipes)
Dinner by Melissa Clark
Feast by Lindsay Anderson
First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright
In My Kitchen by the loved Vegetarian Veteran Deborah Madison (of Greens in San Fran)
Food52 Mighty Salads by the inspiring food blog leaders and editors of Food52
Naturally Nourished by Sarah Britton
In My Mother’s Kitchen by Trish Magwood (of course!)
Dish Entertains by Trish Magwood (how can I not?!)