Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Risotto with Shrimp, Green Beans, and Pesto Sauce

I had a great vegetarian soup planned for our writers' group last Monday night, but icy weather nixed our meeting, and I didn't want to make a huge pot of soup just for my husband and me. What do to with fresh French green beans, a bunch of basil, and a gorgeous chunk of Parmesan Reggiano? Sounded like risotto to me. I put a few recipes together and came up with something new and delicious. For a vegetarian delight, omit the shrimp and use vegetable broth.

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make, and I've made dozens of scrumptious variations of this classic Italian dish. Don't be put off by all the stirring. It's really quite soothing, and there's something great about starting to stir and announcing that no one can bother you for the next twenty minutes or so. If you've never made risotto, give this one a try, and keep an eye on Kitchen Excursions for some great risotto recipes!


Make the pesto sauce:
2-3 garlic cloves                        1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of fresh basil                  Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs. pine nuts                         1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Drop garlic into food processor and mince. Add basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and salt and pepper and process well, scraping down sides once or twice with a spatula. Add cheese and process into a creamy sauce. Empty into prep bowl and reserve.

For the Risotto:
½ lb. French green beans,          1¼ cups arborio rice                       
   trimmed and cut into thirds     ½ dry white wine
4½ cups chicken broth               1 lb. medium shrimp, cleaned
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil          Salt and pepper to taste 
1 large shallot, minced

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Blanch green beans for 5 minutes and drain. Place in a bath of cold water and drain again.

2. Bring broth to a simmer, preferably on the burner right behind the nonstick skillet in which you'll make the risotto.

3. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallot until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, stirring until the grains are well coated with oil.

4. Increase heat to medium high. Add wine and stir until liquid is almost absorbed.  Using a ladle, add about 1 cup of broth to the skillet, stirring again until liquid is almost absorbed. Continue for 14 minutes, then add the shrimp. Continue stirring until shrimp is cooked and rice is al dente. Total cooking time 18-20 minutes.

5. Remove risotto from heat. Stir in green beans and pesto, adding enough of the remaining broth for a creamy consistency. Serve with crusty bread and extra cheese, if desired. Serves 4. 

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