We love making risotto, it is an ideal party dish, hearty, creamy and delicious, especially when packed with fresh summer veggies or a mound of earthy wild mushrooms. Only problem, it is labor intense, requiring whoever is preparing it the tedious task of stirring and stirring as the rice slowly absorbs ladle after ladle of stock. When I was in Spain a few years ago we were treated to an incredible lunch with a baked saffron infused rice, much like a risotto…though that’s Italian, or paella without the seafood, with a hearty sofrito base of onions, garlic and peppers with paprika and saffron. The intensity of the flavor was incredible, and baking the dish left time for sipping glass upon glass of delicious Cava. We experimented with this technique not long ago at a dinner party, again wanting to spend time with our friends instead of in the kitchen stirring. Though this version still takes a bit of time, it isn’t as hands on as the traditional risotto.
Baked Summer Vegetable Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups Arborrio rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 leek, whites and light green parts, thinly sliced in half moons and rinsed well
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock – low sodium preferably, warmed on the stove in a saute pan
1 large zucchini squash, sliced in half lengthwise then into thin (1/4 inch) half moons
1 yellow squash, sliced the same as the zucchini
8 asparagus spears, tough ends removed then sliced into 1 inch pieces lengthwise
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen edemamae
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup mascapone or heavy cream (optional)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and quickly blanch the squash and asparagus in batches, then submerge in an ice water bath to keep the bright colors. Blanch for about 3 minutes at a time. Drain from the ice water bath onto a towel lined baking sheet and set aside.
In an oven safe Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add leek, garlic and shallot and saute for 2 minutes, then add rice and cook until the rice is slightly fried and coated with the oil. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Season with 1 tablespoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add 5 cups of stock, stir to combine then place in the oven with the lid on the pot and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven), until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the oven back onto a medium-low heat and stirring constantly add the remaining cup of stock. Fold in the parmesan and mascapone. Fold in the herbs. Fold in the vegetables. Adjust any final seasonings and serve with an extra sprinkle of cheese on top.