Whew, Friday night! Finally! Instead of going out to unwind in a bar with my peeps, I thought I’d stay home and tell you about this Green Bean Risotto. In truth, I could really use a plate of this tonight. I’m a little tattered around the edges after a long week of intense classes on such inspiring topics as agronomy (the science of soils) and entomology (the science of bugs), not to mention mathematics for professionals in the green industry. I’m sure you can judge by my tone that I’m not a huge science and math fanatic. I signed up for all of this classroom fun though so I could be a better organic and sustainable grower, and thus am ultimately pleased as punch to be learning about mud and bugs and (eek) converting improper fractions so I can better construct a greenhouse should I ever choose to do such.
Is it any surprise then that I’d like a substantial serving of some of the best comfort food imaginable? Too bad I ate all of it the same day I made it, which happened to be earlier this week, before the pop quiz in botany when my nerves began their unfortunate decent into “frazzled”.
Okay, I have a secret to share. No, it’s not the formula for calculating the volume of a square container with tapered sides (I’m not kidding; I have to learn this stuff), but it’s pretty shocking nonetheless. Here it is: I’ve never made my own risotto before. GASP! Seriously, I haven’t. I always squirmed at the idea of standing around and stirring the stuff for 20 minutes. And frankly, no risotto I’d had out somewhere had ever piqued my interest enough to make the effort seem worthwhile.
Of course I had to pick the hottest, most humid, late summer day to finally try risotto at home (which, for those of you that are risotto virgins too, involves not one, but two steamy pots right under you the entire time). Perspiration included (but not in the dish, I’m pretty sure…), it was absolutely, positively, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt worth it to make risotto at home! Yes, it was a tad time consuming, but I kept a notepad and pen handy while I was stirring and just jotted down my grocery list and then my to-do list and then a list of friends I really should take the time to call, if only I’d been smart enough to charge my phone before starting to stir…you get the idea.
I didn’t find any recipes specifically calling for green beans, so I modified Elsie’s (who I trust implicitly) straight-forward one for asparagus. The final dish was creamy and filling, yet somehow superbly summery, thanks to the fresh flavor of the green beans. This dish is by far the best way I’ve come up with yet to use up my beans, and since the Mexican bean beetles are starting to get the best of my bean plants, I might not have many more. If so, the risotto was a fitting finale.
Green Bean Risotto
Adapted from Simply Recipes
1 lb. fresh green beans
3 T. butter
1/2 C. finely chopped onion
1 C. uncooked arborio rice
1/2 C. dry white wine
3 ½ – 4 C. vegetable stock
1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the beans by breaking off the ends and snapping them into 1 inch pieces. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch the bean pieces for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain from the cold water and set aside.
In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated. While the onion is cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of stock to the rice.
Continue to stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.