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Spring Green Risotto

With a couple of simple tips, you’ll find that risotto can be the easy weeknight meal you’ve been dreaming of. The trick is all in the cooking time. If the heat is too low, you’ll end up with sticky grains of rice; too hot, and, you’ll end up with rice that’s crunchy. But when you cook it just right, you’ll have tender grains with a satisfying al dente bite in the center. Add in some fresh-grated cheese and peak-of-the-season veggies, and you’ll always have an adaptable, delicious dish in your repertoire.

6 to 7 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
2 cups leeks, chopped
1/4 cup fennel, chopped
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb asparagus, stems snapped off, bias-cut in 2″ pieces
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 Tbsp lemon zest
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup BelGioioso Mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated BelGioioso Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chives, minced

Add stock to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and keep very hot. Reserve 1-1/2 cups stock.

Heat butter and olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and fennel and sauté for 5 minutes, until tender.

Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with vegetables. Add the white wine and reserved stock and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed.

Add stock two ladles at a time and stir almost constantly until the liquid is absorbed. This should take about 30 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime blanch asparagus in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes add the asparagus, peas, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Continue to add stock until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk together the mascarpone and lemon juice. When risotto is done turn off the heat and stir in the cheese mixture. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese and chives.

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