They're not just green. That would almost be an insult to the shiny, almost vibratingly vivid green that emerges from the thin outer membrane surrounding these edible emeralds in early summer. Fava beans. Every year when I first see these at the Farmer's Market I am sent scrambling to my recipe archives to find new things to do with them. Last night I added them to what looked to be a delicious risotto by Jean-Georges Vongerichten that I spied a while ago on Food & Wine magazine's website. Seeing as how my beloved Meyer lemon tree had a couple of perfect, perfumey lemons waiting to be picked, I googled Meyer lemon recipes and this came up on the screen. Since I also had a pound or so of favas in the fridge, why not make a good thing even better? I had a feeling the favas would work well with the lemony flavor of the risotto, plus add a nice texture contrast with the rice. It worked wonderfully, and this decadently rich risotto will wow your dining companions. I can't wait for leftovers at lunch!
For all of you who think favas are too much work, they aren't. Even if they were, they'd be worth the effort. The prep for the favas for this dish took exactly ten minutes. If you're not in a risotto mood, simply lightly sautéing them in butter as a simple, elegant side dish is hard to beat.
Meyer Lemon Risotto with Basil
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
6 first course servings
If you can't find any Meyer lemons, use regular (Eureka) lemons.
* 6 cups homemade chicken stock (or...if you must...canned low-sodium broth)
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
* 1 tender inner celery rib, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup chopped leaves
* 1/2 Thai chile, minced
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (10 ounces)
* 1/2 cup white vermouth
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
* 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
* 2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or 2 tablespoon finely grated Eureka lemon zest)
* 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons fresh Eureka lemon juice)
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
* 1 1/2 pounds fava beans...to prep: shell beans from outer pods, blanch beans for 60 seconds, then gently squeeze beans to separate favas from the outer membrane. Set shelled favas aside.
1. Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover and keep hot. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery rib and chile, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the celery leaves and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring until glossy, about 1 minute.
2. Add the vermouth to the rice and simmer over moderate heat until almost absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the hot stock, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly between additions, until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding more. The rice is done when it's tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes total. When the rice is amost done, melt one tablespoon butter in a small nonstick sauté pan, add favas and sauté for about 60 seconds, just enough to wram them up. Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, the mascarpone, the lemon zests and juices, favas, and the basil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls and serve, passing additional Parmesan at the table.