This is a very easy, healthy and light risotto recipe you can make all throughout the year but mainly during Spring when artichokes and spring peas are in season. I like to think of this one as a gourmet Easter special to be served as a main or a side for your Easter brunch or dinner. Even though the recipe uses simple and readily available ingredients, the "gourmet" feel comes from a well balanced combination of herby, zesty and nutty flavours.
When choosing artichokes, it's best to look for the freshest, least browned ones with tightly packed leaves but as you can in my pictures, my artichokes have been sitting for a while in my pantry and they had some dried leaves and a lot of browning. Personally, I like to think I'm combatting food waste as much as I can by coming up with different ways to make use of leftovers, scraps and sometimes -not so fresh and plump- vegetables and fruits.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Istanbul where every spring you can find artichoke vendors on street corners. They would clean, peel, remove the hearts for you, rub them with lemon to prevent browning and sell them in little plastic bags filled with water, like goldfish. So, I've seen and learned how to prepare them from a young age but I understand that will not be the case for the vast majority.
If you've never prepared artichokes before, you can click right here to see a video on how to prepare them perfectly. This might seem like a daunting task at first but if you've came across some beautiful artichokes at the market, don't hesitate and bring them home and experiment!
I believe risotto dishes are best enjoyed fresh but if you end up with a lot of leftovers in your hands, the best thing to do is to make some delicious arancini aka risotto balls! I'm currently whipping up a toasted almond crusted arancini that will use this risotto as base and I'll make sure to link it here as well!
Tips and Tricks:
For this recipe, I've roasted fresh artichokes but you can also use frozen or jarred. You can easily use the marinated jarred versions for this dish but make sure you drain them well before you throw them in the risotto. If you're using frozen, defrost and prepare them according to the directions down below. They will take less time to cook in the oven compared to fresh artichokes.
If you're using fresh peas, make sure to pre-boil them because we'll be adding them in the risotto towards the end which may not give them enough time to cook if they're added raw. For frozen peas simply defrost in the microwave or leave them to defrost on the counter while preparing your other ingredients.
I've chosen not to give any measurements for salt and pepper because this will depend largely on what kind of broth you use so keep tasting as you go. Also keep in mind that if you're going for a vegetarian version, you'll most likely add parmesan and parmesan will be high in sodium. I recommend seasoning your risotto with salt at the very end.
Making risotto can be a little labor intensive but you really don't need to be standing over your pot and stirring constantly. Yes, more stirring means creamier risotto because you'll be releasing a lot more starch but stirring it regularly enough to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of your pot will work perfectly fine.
Can you use any rice for making risotto? This recipe calls for Arborio rice but you can use Carnaroli or any other short-grain, high-starch rice. Please note that the broth to rice ratio will change (about 1 to 2 cups) depending on the type of rice you're using.
If you're going for a vegetarian version, I recommend adding in your parmesan along with the peas and artichokes (step 7). Add the parmesan in slowly to have a creamier texture and avoid clumping.
This recipe does not use the artichoke leaves (I just snack on them while making my risotto!) but if you don't want to discard them, you can use them for plating or save them for later.
PREP TIME (including roasting the artichokes): 1H 20 MIN
COOK TIME: 40 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 2H
For roasted artichoke hearts:
4-6 medium sized artichokes
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
For the risotto:
1 1/4 L or 5 cups of vegetable broth or water
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, minced
300 grams or about 1½ cups of arborio rice
1/2 cup of dry white wine
Zest of half a lemon
1 cup of spring peas, frozen or fresh and pre-boiled
3/4 cup of roasted artichoke hearts (you can also use the jarred marinated artichoke hearts here)
Salt, pepper (to taste)
Parmesan to taste (for a vegetarian version)
1/2 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
Roasted lemon slices
For roasting the artichokes:
1. Preheat your oven at 220°C or 425°F
2. Wash, trim and halve your artichokes. Remove the fizzy parts also called "the choke" with the help of a spoon. (If you don't know how to do this, click here to find out!)
3. Slice one of your lemons and halve the other.
3. Place a baking parchment onto an oven sheet and place your lemons and artichokes.
4. Squeeze the lemon you've halved on your artichokes, place the smashed garlic cloves inside them and drizzle generously with olive oil. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Roast them at for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. You can begin checking on them after 30 minutes. If the leaves of your artichokes come off easily, it means they're ready to go!
5. Remove the artichoke hearts, chop them and set them aside for cooling.
For the risotto:
1. Prepare and measure all your ingredients. You'll be using two pots, one to keep your broth warm, the other to make the risotto in.
2. Heat olive oil in pot number one, add in the onions and the bay leaf. Sauté until the onions become soft and translucent.
3. In pot number two, bring your broth to a boil, then reduce the heat enough to keep it simmering.
4. Add in the garlic to your risotto pot, sauté until the garlic is fragrant and add in the risotto rice. Sauté the rice for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until you can observe the grains becoming translucent.
5. Add in the wine and keep stirring. This will let all the alcohol evaporate and let the rice will absorb the beautiful white wine flavour.
6. Add in the lemon zest, and start pouring in your broth 1 cup at a time, waiting between each pour for the rice to absorb all the broth. You will notice the rice absorbing more and more water, getting creamier and softer with after each pour.
7. Before pouring in your last cup of broth, add in the peas and the artichoke hearts.
8. Lastly, add in the chopped dill, give it a final stir and enjoy!