Herb Risotto with Shrimp
As I impatiently stare at the dirt in my garden and look at plants I haven't had a chance to plant yet, I find some immediate garden satisfaction in herbs. They're the only thing out there I can harvest right now. So, this past weekend when the cold rainy Sunday seemed endless (and this weather has barely stopped since), I went out and grabbed a handful of herbs and made some risotto.
I have a "thing" for risotto. It's quite possibly the most flexible dish in the world. Whatever your recipe, it has the same base - rice, onions and wine with some olive oil (or sometimes butter) and the rest is up to you. Some people shy away from risotto because it's a LOT of stirring. I've seen quick recipes, but I prefer the traditional. I actually like the process of this dish - it's therapeutic in a way to nurture it to its end...kind of like gardening - it requires attention and work, but in the end, it's all worth it.
I used Lemon Thyme, Basil & Sage from the garden in this dish. I loved the combination of the basil and hint of citrus from the thyme. If you don't have lemon thyme on hand, I'd suggest throwing in some regular thyme and a little lemon zest instead. Honestly, you can choose any combination of herbs you have on hand. If you don't like shrimp or can't eat it, leave it out. The herbs alone are great in this dish. It makes a great side dish as well.
2 1/2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
12 large sage leaves
4 sprigs of lemon thyme, leaves separated from the stem (discard the stem)
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 - 2 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
2 cups finely chopped shallots (about 4-5 large whole)
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: Some people insist on not adding cheese to any dish that has seafood/fish in it. I think in something like this, it's perfectly fine and delicious. But if you're a purist, just skip the cheese, chop the herbs and at the end, before adding the herbs, melt 3/4 c. of unsalted butter into the risotto and then add the herbs.
Add herbs & cheese in a food processor and pulse about 10 times to combine.
Cut each shrimp into about 4 pieces. (If you bought different size shrimp, just cut into pieces that are small enough to eat as is. No one should ever put a knife to their risotto to cut anything....) Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat (don't boil) broth in a saucepan. Keep it at a low simmer.
Pour yourself a big glass of wine. From here on out, you're going to be chained to the stove, stirring.
In a large heavy sauce pan or dutch oven, heat the oil on low heat.
Add the onions to the oil. Stir occasionally for about 8 minutes or until soft (not browned).
Add rice and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
Turn up the heat to medium and add wine. Stir until absorbed - about 1 minute.
Add about 1/2 cup of broth to the mix and stir constantly until absorbed.
Continue to add broth 1/2 - 1 cup at a time. Stir constantly. As each addition of broth is absorbed, add another addition. Keep doing this for about 20-25 minutes or until creamy but still al dente.
When it's close to being done, with about 5 minutes remaining add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the herb/cheese mix. Stir until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.