A Seasonal Risotto

53 Comments

I love making dishes that I can add stuff to, like pancakes, yeasted breads, risottos, mashed potatoes… well I guess just about any home-cooked dish! It’s one thing I enjoy and am good at. I didn’t learn creativity in culinary school, since I didn’t attend any cooking school ever. It actually comes from being financially strapped and never wanting to waste anything. Got a carrot? Juice it and put it in a soup, grate it and put it in a meat loaf, purée it and add to potato mash… and so forth.

But also, since I grew up experiencing various cuisines, I figured out that it’s easy to be creative by turning any random dish into an inspired-by cuisine. Take a potato soup, for example. Add chorizo, chipotle, and fresh cilantro and you’ve got a Southwestern-inspired soup. Use ricotta in the potato soup and top it with a spoonful of basil pesto, and you’ve got an Italian-inspired soup. And so forth. Every week you can make a “different” potato soup!

So that’s how I have fun in my kitchen, when I’m not following specific recipes.

Which brings me to risotto. I was looking over old blog posts a while back, and I came upon my Paprika Cream Risotto. It’s just a “plain” risotto with the addition of paprika cream. Simple, yet fabulous. The photos could be updated, of course, but what caught my attention were my own notes on suggestions of seasonal risottos.

Spring: Lemony goat cheese risotto with salmon, peas, and basil

Summer: Tomato and tomatillo risotto with chorizo and cilantro

Fall: Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages

Winter: Smoked gouda risotto topped with short ribs and pickled onions

Damn. Those are great ideas! The Italian purists wouldn’t appreciate these recipes, but I have no problem with this kind of inspired cooking. Especially when the outcome is so wonderful!

I decided to start with the spring version, cause it’s spring! Now, this combination isn’t unique for springtime flavors, but they are really good together! Begin with the salmon, then keep the filets warm while you prepare the risotto, then put the final dish together.

After receiving a gift of a variety of fish from my daughter at Christmas from Sitka Salmon Shares, it has become my source for fish; their salmon is perfection.

Easy Sautéed Salmon Filets
Serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 salmon filets, not steaks
Salt
Finely ground pepper

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it brown slightly.

Season the flesh sides of the filets, then place the filets in the skillet, flesh side up. Cook for about 2 minutes, then gently flip over.

Lower the heat slightly and cook the skin-up filets for a about 4 minutes. At this point you can easily remove the skins using a thin spatula.

Turn them over for one last time so the fish cooks under the skin more, about 2-3 minutes over the lowest heat. Place them on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm, then prepare risotto.

Lemon and Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas
Generously serves 2

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Riesling or other non-dry white
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 or 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup prepared green peas (or sliced steamed asparagus if you prefer)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4-5 minutes; don’t allow much caramelization.

Add the rice to the pot and stir it around in the butter and shallots until all the grains are coated. Pour in the white wine. Stir as the rice cooks in the wine and it gradually gets absorbed.

Without letting the pot go completely dry, add some of the broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, and repeat the stirring process, without allowing any burning or sticking. Turn down the heat if you think the rice is cooking too fast; it’s always best to go slower. You can see the risotto is cooking but not ready quite yet.

When you’re down to the end of the broth, turn off the heat and gradually fold in 3 ounces of goat cheese until well distributed.

Add the salt and white pepper and taste for seasoning. If you’re satisfied, gently add the peas, lemon juice and zest, cover the pot, and set it aside.

Lemony Goat Cheese Risotto with Peas Served with Salmon

2 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
A chiffonade of basil leaves

Strain the reserved butter in the skillet into a small bowl. There should be at least 1 tablespoon of melted browned butter. Add the 2 tablespoons of goat cheese into the butter by gently whisking until smooth. If you don’t like this idea, just put a small dollop of soft goat cheese on each filet before serving.

To serve, divide the risotto into two pasta bowls. Top each serving with a salmon filet. Divide the goat cheese-butter mixture between the filets.

Divide the lemon zest between both servings, and finish with the basil chiffonade.

I loved the goat cheese, lemon, and basil flavors together!

If you’re not familiar with the term salmon “filet,” here are photos of the two most common individual cuts – the thinner filet, and the thicker steak. Filets can be trimmed so their thickness is uniform. Save the scraps!

Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for these photos!

53 thoughts on “A Seasonal Risotto

  1. The salmon first caught my eye but then when I realized it was served over a bed of risotto – double whammy! I like to add different ingredients like you do (not as creative as you) so I have a great cookbook “Risotto & Beyond” by John Coleta for inspiration. Lemon, risotto, salmon – perfect!

  2. Improvising recipes is great fun and helps add to the spontaneity of cooking. Your recipe definitely is a winner. I have created some real interesting (and I don’t mean in a good way) recipes. Fortunately Dom will eat just about anything I make.

  3. Mmmm….it’s been way too long since I’ve made risotto! And with salmon sounds divine. I haven’t had a salmon steak since I lived in Vancouver for a year in high school. I can only find fillets. That’s where my love of salmon started! Your photos brought back memories! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

    • Salmon is so good – my favorite fish. I can only get it salmon, but I have a good source. And thanks!

    • It’s certainly the smartest, especially when it comes to produce. My favorite season overall for every reason is fall, and all of the foods it brings.

  4. that salmon sounds wonderful. a well-known aussie writer and scientist has just put out a book called Toxic about the terrible salmon fishing industry here. i haven’t read it yet cos i know i won’t want to eat farmed salmon again.. season risotto sounds marvellous.

    • I’m with you. Sometimes it’s just about knowing less… Can you believe about Kim Bultman? I wonder what in the world happened?

  5. What super meal. Your risotto is lovely and creamy and the salmon with the lemony risotto would be a pleasure to eat. :))

  6. I love your seasonal approach! We do the same thing… we even taught a class on the “four seasons of risotto.” What I really like is that YOUR four seasons are completely different from our four… so now e have eight seasons! Lovely dish, Mimi!

    • Oh interesting! I just love switching things up, no matter what the dish. 8 seasons of risotto sounds like a movie!

    • I like both, because I’m not nearly as creative as professionals. Like I was just remembering the watermelon and jicama salad I made last year, a chef’s recipe. It was outstanding. Never would have thought of it myself. But seasoning, I can do. I love playing with flavors!

  7. Oh, this sounds fantastic, Mimi! I do love risotto, and all of these different ideas are totally inspiring me to make a batch of risotto sometime soon. That paprika cream…yum! We cook in a very similar manner here, too. Tacos and quesadillas are often a go-to for us when trying to figure out how to use random ingredients. Almost everything can get wrapped into a taco in some way!

    • I love cooking authentically, but I also have no problem creating my own flavors. I have a global assortment of seasonings and sauces in my fridge that are so much fun to use. No rules, right?!!

  8. I love a good risotto, Mimi! Goat cheese and lemon sound like the most amazing additions to this recipe! Risotto is definitely as hard to make as some think. Like many things in life, patience is the key. Love this recipe!

    • See, I don’t think it’s hard to make. I’ve actually taught kids to make risotto. Maybe it’s how you’re taught?! Anyway, love the lemon and goat cheese flavors like you.

      • I love creating cuisine-inspired recipes and mash-ups. I think this is do much fun (However, I think I might have been banned from entering Italy for some of my past creations haha) Loving this delightful and delicate risotto – lovely combination of flavours!

      • Okay. Let’s all say it together, “the Italian culinary police do not exist!!!” But I know what you mean. If you want authentic, make authentic. But nobody can stop me from global versions of any dishes of any cuisines. That’s what’s fun!!!

  9. I rarely make the same dish exactly the same way twice. Always fun to tinker with recipes! That salmon looks terrific. As does the risotto. :-) Thanks!

  10. This looks so delicious–I just love the combination of flavors you are using. (Don’t you love when you inspire yourself with your old posts? 😂) And that salmon looks amazing! Will have to look it up when I get home.

    • Yes. Good flavors. Nothing unique, but perfect for spring. I pretty much always sauté salmon in browned butter till almost cooked through. I never think to do it any other way.

    • Oh really?! It’s so easy!!! You can seriously put just about anything in risotto, or just make it cheesy!

  11. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make and one of my favorite things about it is just how creative one can be with it. Love this recipe, and I just checked out the Paprika Cream Risotto and might even make that one first. (I think paprika is the most used spice in my house!) Both look divine. :-) ~Valentina

    • My Hungarian friend turned me onto paprika cream, and I’m in love with the products – some are spicy and some are sweet, and some I can’t read! I like adding them to sauces, white bean dips, you name it. They come in tubes so they’re really handy!

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