Rites of Spring
…or summer, in this case. Whenever your fava beans are in season, make this risotto. It tastes like the essence of everything fresh, green, and new.
Making risotto is easy. Hear me now and believe it! For some reason, risotto has acquired a reputation as a chichi, difficult dish. In reality, it’s rice…and broth. And a lot of stirring. The key to making successful risotto is organization: have all your ingredients prepped ahead of time and set out near your stovetop, make sure your broth is boiling by the time you need to start adding it to the rice, and serve the risotto immediately once you’ve determined it’s finished. Risotto doesn’t hold up – it becomes gluey and pasty faster than you’d expect. If you have leftovers, don’t try to eat them as-is – make risotto cakes instead!
Another thing about risotto: it needs enough salt. Any good cook knows, of course, that this is true of all foods, but it’s particularly true of risotto. If you make this recipe and it tastes flat, good heavens, add more salt! Or more lemon – or both.
This recipe serves four hungry people as a one-dish meal, or six less hungry people with side dishes.
Fava Bean and Arugula Risotto
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 white or yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic
3 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine
6-8 cups vegetable broth (a light-tasting broth, such as Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth, is preferable)
2 lbs. arugula, washed and coarsley chopped
3 lbs. fava beans, shelled and peeled
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil, minced
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup lemon juice (plus more to taste)
Zest of one lemon
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer while you make the risotto.
2. In another medium saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee, turning the heat down if needed, until the onions are soft and a deep brown, about ten minutes.
3. Make a well in the onions and add the garlic. Allow to cook for a few minutes until softened and fragrant.
4. Add the rice. Stir to mix well with the onions and garlic, allowing the oil and butter to coat the rice. Allow to toast for about a minute.
5. Pour in the wine. Now, you will begin to stir. Stir the wine into the rice, and continue stirring until all the wine has been absorbed.
6. Add the broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring the rice continually until all the broth has been absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Here’s where you must use your own judgment. About 10-15 minutes after you first added the wine, and the grains of rice have begun to look translucent, start tasting the risotto. If the grains of rice still have a crunchy center, add more broth. You want the rice to be al dente, but not crunchy.
7. When the risotto is almost fully cooked – just a little bit of crunch left in the center – add the arugula with your next ladleful of broth. Stir it into the risotto. It looks like a lot of arugula, but not to worry. It will wilt.
8. When the grains of rice are al dente, but not crunchy, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in fava beans, basil, cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust flavors. Serve immediately.