Lucky enough to be voted into the last round of the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet, I present my answer to the final challenge: create the prettiest risotto, OR the prettiest photos of the prettiest risottos.
Is it cheating to use flowers? Well, if my day lilly buds weren’t tense, ready to burst into bloom, perfect for saute-ing into a peppery mix-in, if my garden weren’t swaying with catnip, calendula, and chamomile, I’d say it’s cheap.
But, every ingredient, except the wine and rice, is growing together in New England fields right now. In fact, this dish could be called June Field Risotto. The strewn flowers add a “grassy” flavor to the sweet, rich beet-y risotto. The garlic scape pesto adds the bite of garlic and the savory unctuousness of Parmigiana. The slightly earthy quality of the Integrale rice (risotto rice with the bran still intact) is fitting transport for beets, garlic and wild flowers.
New England fields and farm stands are beautiful right now; here’s one stirred into a risotto. Thanks to the Marx people and Integrale participants for being so much fun to work with!
June Field Risotto
Beet Risotto with Garlic Scape Pesto and Flowers
for the risotto:
2 cups Integrale risotto
5 cups or more homemade chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons butter to saute lillies
1/2 medium onion
1 cup white white
2 cups raw beets grated in a food processor
2 bunches lilly buds
4 tablespoons garlic scape pesto
for the garlic scape pesto:
10 garlic scapes
1 cup parsley leaves, arugula, or mizuna
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup grated Parmigiana
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
for the rice:
Pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and bring to a gentle simmer. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain this simmer the whole time you are preparing the risotto.
Break off the lilly buds from the stem, and trim ends off any stalk. In a small saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter until hot and bubbly. Add the buds, some salt and pepper, and saute until wilted and brown. Set aside.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Melt the butter and oil in a 4-to-5-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly.
Add the onion and cook, continuing to stir, until it turns soft and translucent.
Once the onion is soft, add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until it begins to crackle.
Add the wine, and stir until it is evaporated.
Using a ladle, scoop up about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of broth. Pour it in the pan with the rice, stirring constantly with a spoon. After the first addition of broth, the rice mixture will look a bit soupy.
As the rice begins to cook, stir it constantly, making sure that you scrape along the bottom of the pan so that it does not stick.
When most of the liquid is absorbed into the rice and the rice begins to look a bit dry, add another ladle of broth to the pan and stir constantly, as before.
Continue to add the broth in 1/2-to-3/4-cup batches and stir the rice until you have used most of the broth. When the risotto is close to done, but still slightly crunchy, after about fifteen minutes of stirring, add the grated beets. (Traditional risotto usually takes 25 minutes for me. The Integrale definitely took 30 minutes to become al dente.) Keep adding broth, cooking both the rice and the beets.
When all is finished, stir in the lilly buds.
Spoon into bowls, dollop with garlic scape pesto, and strew flowers.
for the garlic scape pesto:
Put scapes into the bowl of a food processor and whir. Add the remaining ingredients, and whir until blended. Taste for salt, pepper, and balance. Add more of anything that you think it needs. If it’s too strong, add more oil or more of the greens beside scapes.