Spring Green Risotto with Shrimp

Spring Green Risotto with Shrimp

I love risotto.  I think it’s my favorite thing to eat and to make.  What is there not to love about rich, creamy rice that you can flavor with anything you like?  Especially when what I like right now are spring veggies.  So it’s time, my friends for some spring green risotto.

The thing that always surprises me about risotto is how it can be so creamy without cream–it gets that rich texture from cooking it slowly and gradually adding the liquid in small amounts.  Usually at the end of the cooking process, I add a pat of butter and some grated parmesan and cover the pot, letting the risotto rest and develop an even creamier texture.  That is definitely my secret to making great risotto.

I was recently scanning the web for food inspiration (as I often do) and found a recipe for risotto from Cooking Light that uses cream cheese to achieve the final creaminess instead of using the ol’ pat of butter and parmesan trick I just revealed.  Hmmmm, intriguing.  Plus, this recipe also called for edamame, which I have recently fallen in love with.  So what was for dinner that night?  BINGO.

I added some shrimp to the risotto for an additional texture.  I LOVED it, but Frank wasn’t a big fan, so feel free to leave it out if you prefer.  I wouldn’t leave the edamame out, however, even if you’re not familiar with it.  The beans have such an interesting texture that goes great with the asparagus and the risotto.

Spring Green Risotto with Shrimp
(recipe taken from Cooking Light April 2011)

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice (uncooked)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper
20 small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup cream cheese (fat-free is fine if you prefer)
1 ounce grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh thyme, lightly chopped

Boil asparagus in salted water for two minutes. Drain and reserve.

Bring chicken broth and 2 cups of water to a low simmer.

Place a large heavy saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for two minutes.  Add rice and edamame and cook an additional minute.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Add a cup of chicken stock and cook until absorbed, then add another cup.  Keep adding stock and cooking until stock is absorbed and until the rice is fully cooked and smooth, about 15-20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook through.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Add the asparagus, cream cheese, and thyme and stir together.  Cover pot and set aside, off the heat, for 5 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

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