Summer in San Diego often means gray skies and early morning mist, and even when it clears up in the afternoon, a morning mindset of chilly weather sets my mind to comfort food.
Add into the mix afternoons spent shuttling kids back and forth to camp or wiping sand from ocean-bound feet, and you, too, may find yourself shopping your pantry for dinner. And if your freezer boasts frozen peas or asparagus, all the better.
This risotto recipe is based on an easy-bake risotto from Ina Garten, jazzed up a bit with sunny California flavors like basil and lemon. When I’m in the mood for comfort food (which is more often than not), risotto is my go-to, gluten-free comfort food.
Risotto is perfect not just for your gluten-free guests, but for vegetarians, too; just be sure to sub the chicken stock for vegetable broth. I usually have chicken stock in the freezer, nestled in next to the frozen veggies, so that’s what I use, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Ina’s recipe calls for white wine, but don’t fret if your cupboard is bare: simply add more stock and a dash of balsamic or other vinegar.
I also added in lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon, to highlight the asparagus and contribute some vibrancy to the dish. Basil not only adds another layer of green, but brings its sweetness to contrast with the lemon.
If you’re new to making risotto, be sure to check out Ina’s how-to video, here:
Whether your skies bring rain or sun, this dish will brighten your dinner table and save you a trip to the market.
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6-8 spears asparagus, frozen or fresh
- Zest from one lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- A few sprigs of fresh basil, julienned
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Combine the rice and 3 cups stock in a large Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.
- Towards the end of the baking time, steam or microwave the asparagus. Let cool slightly, and chop into bite-sized bits.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and set over low heat on the stove.
- Add in the remaining 1 cup stock, parmesan cheese, champagne vinegar, butter, salt and pepper and slowly stir for a few minutes, until the rice is creamy.
- Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice and asparagus bits.
- Garnish with the julienned basil and serve with grated parmesan cheese.