Much like a bear languidly shuffles its way out of its cave, brushing off a long winter’s slumber…blinded by the light of spring, so does this girl. Albeit, my cave is a comfy apartment in the the bustling heart of DC, so I have much better chances of wandering out of my front door and dodging the front end of the G2 bus than I do finding a lush green forest. Lucky bears.
So anyhow, this is my long-winded explanation for my unexpected leave of absence from posting in the past week or so, but I had a serious case of spring fever to battle, which did not include me sitting in front of a computer screen for the last hours of daylight. So, now that I am back on track, I would like to provide a lovely, light spring inspired risotto to usher in the warmer weather, and give us a little warmth as we wait out these rainy April days. So, I give to you my latest recipe…bon appetit! (And don’t be afraid of the word “brussel sprouts”…embrace the green goodness!”)
Summary: A refreshingly light and satisfying lemony rice, fig and vegetable blend. Perfect for a chilly spring night.
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup dried figs, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cored and very thinly sliced
- Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- Place the broth and water in a medium saucepan over low heat and keep at a very low simmer. Place the figs in a small heatproof bowl, add 1/2 cup of the broth, and stir to combine; set aside. In a large wide pot or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels start to crackle, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and let simmer, stirring often, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 to 4 minutes. Pour a ladleful of the simmering broth over the rice. Let simmer, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding the broth, stirring and letting it absorb, until the rice is al dente, about 20 to 30 minutes (you may not use up all of the broth). Taste as you go for doneness, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the Brussels sprouts, season with salt, and stir to coat in the oil. Add the reserved fig-broth mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are wilted and the pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.
- When the rice is done, remove from heat, add the Brussels sprout–fig mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and stir to combine. Add the Parmesan and parsley and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, Parmesan, and lemon juice as needed.
- Just before serving, loosen the risotto to the desired consistency with a little more broth or hot water and serve immediately. Drizzle each serving with olive oil, or go without the drizzle to keep things lighter, if you choose.
By thinly slicing Brussels sprouts and sautéing them in oil with lemon juice and zest, the little cabbage known for turning kids into vegetable-haters softens into a sweet, slightly earthy side dish. Mix the sprouts with plumped dried figs and creamy risotto and your vegetable-haters will quickly come around.
Use a lighter oil if you are looking to save calories.
Cooking time (duration):1 hour 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 6
Meal type: dinner
Culinary tradition: Italian