Leek and Mascarpone Cheese Risotto, Grilled Asparagus

by Jennifer

This risotto, adapted from Cooking Light, is wonderful, requires a little forethought.  You make the broth first, so either leave enough time beforehand, or make it up to a day before.  The easiest way to wash leeks is to chop them first, then rinse them well with cool water in a colander.  I served the risotto with grilled asparagus:  prepare your grill, take one bunch of asparagus – about a pound or so – and toss it with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for about 5 minutes or so, turning once, until lightly charred but still crisp-tender.  Serves 4 – 6.

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 large leeks, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups parsley, chopped, divided
  • 1 cup basil, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 onion, cut into small chunks
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1” pieces
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 TBS chopped preserved lemon OR zest from one lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine water, 2 cups chopped leeks, 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, and salt through celery in a large pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower heat to a simmer and let broth simmer for about 35 minutes.

Drain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized pot, discarding solids.  If you felt like measuring it (I did not), you should have about 5 1/2 cups broth.

Add a pinch of saffron to the pot and keep the pot on low heat.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add remaining leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add 2 cups of hot broth and cook, stirring frequently,

until liquid is almost absorbed.

Repeat with another 2 cups of broth.  Add remaining broth, and when liquid is almost absorbed,

add remaining parsley, basil, mascarpone cheese, Parmesan cheese, preserved lemon or lemon zest, salt and pepper, stirring well until cheeses melt.

Serve immediately.

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