Sometimes, grocery shopping can seem like the most mundane task. Must buy food, must think of ways to prepare food to sustain myself. Nutrition, budget…ugg. But other times, I’m like a kid in a candy shop and the experience leaves me positively giddy.
Yesterday was a perfect example of the latter. I went shopping, hoping to find something at least reasonably interesting to make for dinner. I set my hopes fairly low, aiming for decent salad greens and maybe a piece of fish. Well, I never quite made it to the fish counter because I got side tracked by all of the great spring produce. Finally! Ramps! Fava beans! Beautiful artichokes! Asparagus! Oh my! I scraped my original plans, loaded my basket with spring greenery, and came up with a plan B.
The asparagus is going on a flatbread tomorrow night, the artichokes were prepared in my favorite way (and something I should really share here one of these days), and the ramps and fava beans were folded into this luxurious risotto. Eaten with good wine on a relaxed evening in, it was just the way to pass a(nother) rainy spring evening.
For the risotto, you’ll need Arborio rice, white wine, chicken or vegetable stock, Mascarpone, and Parmesan cheese, plus a bunch of ramps and a pile of fava beans.
We’ll use the everything but the hairy root ends of the ramps. Slice the bulb and stem to use in place of the shallot or onion we usually start our risotto with. Chop or tear the leaves into pieces and save them to stir in towards the end.
The fava beans need to be blanched and peeled. Yes, it’s a little bit tedious, but they don’t get added to the risotto until the end so you can get the rice going and peel them as it cooks.
Sauté the ramps in a little butter, add the rice and let it toast for a moment. Splash of wine, cup of stock, simmer, stir. Add more stock when the pan starts to get dry. When the rice is almost tender, add the fava beans and ramp greens. Let the greens wilt down and the rice finish cooking, then pull the pan off the heat and stir in a nice big dollop of Mascarpone and plenty of Parmesan.
And dinner’s ready. Set the table, pour the wine, and get ready to have a lovely evening!
- 1 bunch (about 10) Ramps
- 1 # fresh Fava Beans, shelled
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 c. Arborio Rice
- ½ c. Dry White Wine
- 3 c. Chicken or Vegetable Stock (homemade or low-sodium), hot
- ¼ c. Mascarpone Cheese
- ½ c. grated Parmesan Cheese
- Begin by preparing the ramps and fava beans. Cut the root ends from the ramps and discard. Thinly slice the bulbous bottoms and all the way up to where the leaves start. Roughly chop the leaves.
- You'll need to blanch the shelled fava beans in order to remove the tough, bitter skin. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Plunge the beans into the boiling water (I keep them in a small mesh strainer so they're easy to pull out) until tender, 1-2 minutes. Immediately transfer them to the ice bath to stop them from cooking any further. Peel away the pale green skins to reveal the bright green fava beans. You can do this while you're risotto is cooking to save time.
- Heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan or wide skillet with deep sides. Add the sliced ramps, season with a pinch of salt, and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and allow the kernels to toast slightly, about 1 minute. Pour in the white wine, season with a bit more salt, and allow the wine to cook off. Now add about 1 c. of the hot stock and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the pan is nearly dry then add another cup of stock. Repeat and continue to cook until the rice is nearly tender, 30-35 minutes.
- When the rice is nearly ready, stir in the chopped ramp leaves and fava beans. Continue to cook for a few more minutes until the greens have wilted down. Remove from the heat and stir in the Mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses. Taste and season as needed with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the risotto between warm bowls or rimmed plates, top with a little more grated Parmesan if you like, and serve immediately.
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