Pea & Asparagus Risotto

Happy Thursday, everyone! Are you excited for the weekend? I know I am. Mostly because I’m coming down with a cold and want the chance to sleep for two days straight and feel better. Also I might explore the San Diego Zoo for the first time since moving here a year ago, so that should be fun.

I feel like it’s a right of passage being a San Diego inhabitant to go to the zoo. Also Disneyland, which I’ve done. And update; it’s over two hours away, which I did not expect, and also much much much smaller than I expected. Maybe I’m just used to my East-Coast Disney World, which compared to the size of Disneyland does seem to be an entire world. I’d go back though… say on a Tuesday in October so maybe it’ll be a little tiny bit less crowded? Maybe? A girl can hope.

Anyway, back to the zoo. Right of passage. I haven’t been. I mean I’ve been to zoos in general before, and I’ve been to Balboa Park (where the zoo is located) but just never inside the actual zoo. I think because I’m conflicted about them *insert huge eye roll here*. I’m a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish (perhaps after I’ve gone out with friends for a few drinks? Don’t judge), and rarely eats other animal byproducts as well (but sometimes it’s just too hard to say no when they ask “do you want cheese on that?”). Partially it’s for health reasons, partially it’s because I’ve just never enjoyed eating meat anyway, but mostly it’s the issues I have with mass production of animals for meat and the terrible conditions they live in, plus the absolutely terrible effects it has on the environment. Truly, I have no issue eating chicken or drinking milk when we go back to North Dakota to visit my boyfriend’s family, because they raise it there, take care of the animals and give them a good life. I know, I’m confusing. Don’t get me started. It’s a personal internal battle. I have no problems with other people choosing to eat what they will. Look into it all if you care to. It’s a tough world we live in… everything is either bad for you, hurting something, bad for the environment, or all of the above.

ANYWAY, back to the zoo… again. Zoos give me the same conflicted feeling of being OK with eating animal products that I know were humanely raised. You go to a zoo and they tell you all of these stories about how these animals are endangered and how they were found injured in the wild then brought back for treatment. But you still know in the back of your mind that they are absolutely not meant to be caged up. So am I a bad person for going to the zoo and supporting them keeping animals from the wild? Or am I good because I am giving them money for treatment? Again, it’s a tough world we live in.

So the zoo. Right of passage. Yes.

Another right of passage? Cooking risotto.

Ah yes, risotto. The food that everyone loves to eat but won’t dare trying to cook themselves. Truth is, once you have a basic recipe down, it’s really not that hard. Patience, patience, and more patience is the main ingredient. You can’t dump together all of the broth with the rice, leave it for half an hour then come back to beautiful risotto.

You just can’t.

It takes patience to add a little bit of liquid, stir so it is consistent throughout until the liquid is gone.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Another thing that helps so much is consistent heat. Enter a rice cooker. Using Sauté-then-Simmer STS® the heat is not only consistent during the time of cooking, but evenly throughout the bottom of the pot.

Will this be the best risotto you’ve ever tasted? Probably not. Creating a masterpiece takes time and training. But will it be good enough for you to throw on a plate for your family and friends? Absolutely.

So you go, take that right of passage. Make risotto!

1 tsp olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
10 asparagus spears, cut into bite size pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp dried basil
salt & pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbsp milk

ARC-1230, or other 20-cup Digital Multicooker with Sauté-then-Simmer STS®;  adjust the ingredient amounts for smaller cookers
4-6 servings
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Add the oil to the inner pot of the cooker and allow it to heat briefly on the Sauté-then-Simmer STS® function. After it has heated for about 3 minutes, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute while it becomes aromatic, stirring with a long-handled wooden or silicone spoon. Add the asparagus and frozen peas; cook 3 minutes until they start to soften.

Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, the rice, basil, and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir frequently, leaving the lid open, until almost all of the liquid has absorbed. Repeat adding 1/2 a cup of broth at a time and stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Switch the cooker to KEEP WARM and add the cheese and any additional salt and pepper. Stir in until fully melted and incorporated. Stir in the milk, then serve in bowls or on plates with fresh cracked black pepper, extra Parmesan, and some fresh parsley.

As a tip, if you prefer your veggies firmer and more on the raw side, skip adding them at the beginning and go right to sauteing the garlic then adding the rice and broth. Add peas and asparagus when you add the last 1/2 cup of broth at the end.

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