Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Springtime Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus

Springtime Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus at Paprika Red

I've been intimidated by fava beans before. These big beans that you have to peel twice: once out of the pod, then a second time out of the skin. (The internet says blanching them briefly in boiling water, then shocking them in ice water helps the skins slide off easier; you can also peel them as-is while watching TV, like I did.) It seems like a lot of effort for little payoff. I was wrong, the payoff is big! Now I'm a convert, and even my bean-picky husband liked the dish (a lot). So creamy and mild, they have a wonderful green yet slightly nutty flavor that goes well with the freshness of asparagus and lemon.

Risotto is always made out to be a lot of work, but I don't really think it's as hard as it can seem. Sure, you have to stir, and it does demand your frequent attention, but in 30 minutes you can have delicious risotto while only tending to one pot, and to me that's easier than trying to orchestrate a separate protein, starch, and veg.
Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus
1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans (about 1.5 lbs in pods)
1 cup asparagus, woody stalks removed and sliced into 1/2" pieces
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup crisp white wine
4 cups low-sodium broth, warmed (I used chicken)
Zest of 1 small lemon
5 TB grated Romano cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a small nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over low heat. Add 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, the fava beans, and a pinch of salt. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until fava beans turn bright green but are still a bit firm, about 7 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until beans are almost creamy and asparagus is crisp-tender, another 4 minutes or so. Set aside but cover to keep warm.

In a small pot, warm the broth and keep it steaming, but not simmering. In a large pan, heat 1 1/2 TB of olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining 3 cloves of garlic, and stir for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat, until the rice starts to become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and lemon zest, stirring constantly, until wine has been absorbed. Add one ladle of warm broth and stir until evaporated. Repeat this process until all the broth has been absorbed and/or the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. If you've added all the broth but the rice is still toothsome, add warm water about 1/3 cup at a time, testing and tasting after each addition.

When rice is tender, reduce heat to very low, add in 3 TB of Romano, and stir to incorporate. Add the veggies, combine gently, and plate. Top with remaining cheese. Serves 2-4, depending on portion size.


  1. That is the most GORGEOUS-looking risotto... How I wish I had some fava beans with which to make this dish! I will certainly earmark it for spring :-)

  2. Thanks Robyn! Due to our funky weather this year, we've had an exceptionally long spring season, including fava beans well into July. I look forward to further comments if you make it next year :)