The calendar says spring but here in the Midwest we are not feeling it yet. A warm comforting bowl of Risotto is perfect whether spring has sprung in your area or not. I like to add roasted asparagus to the lemony-cheesy mix to round out the dish. Add your favorite vegetables.

This decadent version of the Italian classic is a perfect first course or main dish. I like to serve it garnished with big shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The tangy lemon and salty cheese combine to create a big “wow” flavor and the mascarpone cheese puts this creamy decadent dish over the top.

Serves 4 as a main course of 6 as a first course

Olive oil

2 large shallots, peeled and finely minced

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

2 cups Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

Juice and zest of 1 large lemon

2 ½ cups of vegetable stock (see recipe, page)

3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish

  1. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the shallots and sweat the shallots until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice grains are coated with the oil.
  2. Add the wine and increase the heat to medium high. Bring the wine to a simmer and transfer the mixture to the insert for the slow cooker. Add the lemon juice, zest and stock. Stir the mixture together. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours until the rice is creamy but still al dente (to the tooth-firm but cooked through).
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the risotto on a large platter or in individual bowls and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano shards (use a vegetables peeler to peel large thick pieces of cheese).

For variations you can add cooked asparagus or any other favorite vegetable.

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here.
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