What better way to display the green goodness of summertime than in a risotto? Farmers markets, friends' gardens, and local grocers are teeming now with beautiful green zucchinis and artichokes of all shapes and sizes. (Okay, maybe just the grocers have the artichokes since Pennsylvania's climate isn't exactly conducive to growing them. ;) ) Inspired by the season, a zucchini from a friend's garden, and some beautiful baby artichokes from Delallo Italian Marketplace, I set out to make one of my favorite adult comfort foods with a fresh, summery twist.
To start your risotto, pour one 34 ounce container of chicken broth (I use organic just because the taste is so much better) into a medium sauce pan and start to heat slowly over medium heat. Watch it and don't let it boil. We just want to warm the broth to add to the rice and veggies later. ;)
In the meanwhile, finely chop one medium shallot and set aside. Slice the tops and the ends off of 8-10 baby artichokes. Pull off all of the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, usually 3-4 layers. Slice each artichoke into quarters. Dice one medium zucchini.
Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot. Once the butter has melted, add the shallot and saute for 2 minutes until golden and soft. Now add the artichoke quarters. Saute for 3 more minutes. At this point, I add a splash of white wine to help soften the artichokes and cook them. Then throw in your diced zucchini. Sprinkle sea salt over the veggie mixture and saute for another 2 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the vegetables in the pot and saute 2 minutes to toast the rice. Pour in about a 1/2 cup of white wine. Simmer until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Remove your pot of warmed chicken broth from the heat. Add about a cup of the warm broth to the rice/veggie mixture. Stir often- the rice can stick to the bottom of the pan if you don't stay on top of the stirring. Once the broth has been absorbed, add another cup and stir. Continue repeating this process until you have used all the chicken broth. All and all, the adding of broth and the stirring should take 20-30 minutes. Make sure to taste the rice as you add the broth to check for doneness. The rice should be creamy, but firm when it is done.
Once the rice is cooked to your doneness, remove from the heat. Add a tbsp of butter and about a 1/2 cup (or a bit more ;) ) of parmesan cheese. I suggest staying away from the domestic parms, and splurging on an Italian one. The taste of an Italian parmesan is bounds and leaps beyond a domestic variety. You are not using much, so it won't hit your wallet too hard. I bought my parmesan in a chunk and then finely chopped it. Shredded parmesan would also work well. Stir the butter and parmesan into the risotto until it is melted and well incorporated. Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste. Plate up and serve immediately. :)