Finally, the weather is changing, the sun is smiling, and our farmers markets are filling with produce of the new season. Here’s a recipe that highlights some of our favorite springy returns.
Spring Risotto | Roasted Artichoke | Fresh Pea | Homemade Goat Milk Ricotta
Spring means a new season of vegetables, and the first fresh milk from animals grazing on spring grass. Look for goat cheese ricotta at your farmers market or make it yourself with the recipe below; no special equipment or ingredients needed. Topping the risotto with dollops of cheese, rather than mixing it in, allows for flexibility: consider almond milk ricotta for a dairy-free version. Sprinkle in quinoa for added whole grain goodness.
4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Spring onions, diced small (equal to 1medium onion)
1 cup arborio rice (do not wash)
2 tablespoons raw quinoa (optional)
2 /3 cup dry white wine
10 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
½ pound English peas, shelled
1 cup fresh goat or sheep cheese ricotta, or other soft spring cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Good quality olive oil for finishing
Salt and pepper to taste
Roasted Lemon Artichoke Hearts and Homemade Goat Cheese Ricotta (recipes below)
Bring stock to boil in a medium saucepan. Cover with lid and turn off heat.
Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat. Add oil, butter and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add rice and sauté 1 minute. Look for a white dot in the center of the rice kernels, then add wine, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until pan is almost dry.
Stir in 1½ cups warmed stock, and quinoa (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to a simmer, and let cook, stirring and adding ¼ cup stock every time the moisture in the pan gets low. Keep the temperature at a low simmer until cooked, about 25 minutes, continuing to add stock and stirring in as needed.
While the risotto cooks, blanch the peas in a small pan of boiling water for 15 seconds, drain and let cool. Do the same with the asparagus. Another option is to grill or quickly roast the asparagus. Set aside.
In a small bowl, fold the chopped dill and lemon zest into the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the risotto is toothy yet done, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on some good quality olive oil, and transfer to serving platter. Ladle on the fresh cheese, and top with peas, asparagus artichokes, and dill fronds.
Roasted Lemon Artichoke Hearts
2 tablespoons olive oil (refined) or another high heat oil such as avocado
Preheat oven to 425° degrees. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into a large bowl filled with water. Add in the squeezed lemons.
Slice off the top 2/3’rds of the artichoke, trimming spikey tops with kitchen shears. Pull the tough outer leaves downward and off, removing the first 4 rows or so. Trim the bottom and peel the outer layer of stem, keeping it long if possible. Trim any dark green areas around base. Cut in half lengthwise. Spoon out the fuzzy choke and little purple leaves. Rub with a lemon half to prevent oxidation and turning dark. Place in the lemon water. Repeat with remaining chokes.
Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto a small baking dish. Shake off excess water from artichokes and toss with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange cut side down and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Roast until the artichokes start to turn a dark beautiful brown, and are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 25 minutes.
Homemade Goat Cheese Ricotta
Makes 1 cup
4 cups whole goat or sheep’s milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons distilled vinegar or fresh lemon
Place milk in a heavy-bottomed pot with salt and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Heat to 180ºF to 190ºF. If no thermometer, heat until it foams at the sides and starts simmering but doesn't boil. Remove from heat and add vinegar or lemon juice. Stir only a couple of times. Almost immediately, curds will start to form. Make sure not to stir any more so as not to disturb the curds. Let stand for five minutes.
Line a sieve with cheesecloth and pour milk into sieve, disturbing the curds as little as possible. Drain for five to 20 minutes to the desired consistency. Five minutes gives you moist and creamy; 20 minutes is a drier ricotta. The longer it drains, the drier it'll be. If it gets too dry, add back some of the whey. Refrigerate for up to seven days.
Next week: The Food Party! book group continues discussing Food Fight, The Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill. We’re on part two: Wedge Issues - issues which could help or hurt progress toward a healthier Farm Bill with a more balanced approach of grain commodities along with vegetables, beans, nuts and fruits.
- photos by LSIC