A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to the opening of The Market at Santa Monica Place. The Market, an airy hall filled with gourmet food stalls on top of the recently renovated mall in downtown Santa Monica, feels a bit like San Francisco's Ferry Building. It's got chocolate, cheese, bread, wine, salumi, flowers, cookies, ice cream, fashion-forward small plates - much of it locally sourced, all of it attractive and delicious.
The night of the grand opening celebration, Good Food host Evan Kleiman and L.A. Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold did a cooking demo in the market's brand-new Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories. Jonathan, ever the carnivore, did a classic, ultra-manly carbonara, all bacon and slick egg yolks. It was delicious, but it didn't feel particularly local to me, despite the hefty chunks of pork from Los Angeles's new darling butchering duo Lindy and Grundy.
|Evan Kleiman prepping for her demo at The Gourmandise School|
Evan, on the other hand, embraced the bounty of southern California with a green risotto. Into her food processor went arugula, spinach, green onions and herbs. She added some of the chopped greens at the beginning of the risotto process ("for flavor") and another dollop at the end ("for color"). Snap peas cut on the diagonal went in at the last minute. It looked like grass, and it sort of tasted like grass, too, fresh and mild and a little sneezy. She uses vegetable stock or water when she's making risotto, both to please the vegetarians and because, she says, chicken stock smells like feet if you cook it too long.
Later that week I decided to make my own green risotto. I found myself reaching for the strong stuff, though. Mine had green garlic and dandelion instead of spinach and green onions. And a good, strong, homemade chicken stock, because I like the smell of feet. Same method, same beautiful color, none of the delicacy. My green risotto hits you over the head with spring. It rubs spring in your face. What can I say? Subtlety isn't my strong suit.
This green garlic risotto would make an excellent side with roast chicken, oven-roasted salmon or grilled steak. Don't serve it with anything too complicated. It's assertive. You don't want to make it mad.
Green garlic risotto
Use any combination of greens you like for this herb-laden risotto. If you can't find green garlic, substitute a few chopped garlic cloves and double down on the green onions.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 large shallots, minced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine, divided
- approximately 8 cups good-quality chicken stock, kept at a simmer on a nearby burner
- 2 stalks green garlic
- 6 green onions
- approximately 4 cups mixed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, dill, tarragon, chives) and/or strong-flavored greens (dandelion, arugula, kale, mustard)
- 2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and shallots and saute about a minute, until the shallots are translucent and starting to color. Add the rice and stir about two minutes, until the rice is coated with the olive oil and starting to change from opaque to translucent.Add 1/2 cup of the wine and stir until it's mostly evaporated. Now start with the chicken stock - add about two cups the first time and stir until it's absorbed. When you draw your spoon along the bottom of the pot and it leaves a trail, add some more stock, one or two ladles at a time.Meantime, in between the first and second addition of stock, put the green garlic, green onions, greens and herbs in a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped. It may even turn into a paste - that's fine. When you add the second bit of stock, add a good heaping cup of the chopped greens as well.Continue stirring and adding stock in the same manner until the rice is al dente - this will take 15-20 minutes, so start testing it after 15. When it's just al dente, stir in the remaining half-cup of wine, grated cheese, another dollop of the chopped greens, and salt and pepper. Stir well, cover the pot, and turn off the heat. Let the risotto stand for about 5 minutes, then serve immediately. If the risotto thickens up too much while it stands, stir in a little extra stock.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings