May 28, 2010

Spring in a Bowl: Fava Bean, Wild Leek and Grilled Scallop Risotto

Seems that everyone in Toronto is shopping for fava beans these days, and some of us are even making the same thing with them.  Just about the time that I was reading about Isabelle's risotto with fava beans, fiddleheads and snow peas, I was making a batch of fava bean risotto of my own.  With fleeting spring greens like wild leeks and favas in season for just a few short weeks, it's worthwhile to seek them out this weekend at the farmers' market - even if you have to battle the Greek yiayias to do so.

Liz's Spring Risotto
serves 4

This delicious seafood risotto uses a hint of pancetta and chicken broth.  For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta and use vegetable broth instead.

1½ lb. fava beans (unshelled weight)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped (enough for ¼ c)
2 oz. pancetta, chopped (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
⅓ c chicken broth
2 tbsp each unsalted butter and olive oil
One bunch wild leeks (ramps), rinsed and chopped (white and green parts)
1½ c. arborio rice, unrinsed
½ c. dry white wine, divided
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated to a slow simmer
10-12 fresh sea scallops

1.  Shell fava beans and wash in cold water.  Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan and sauté 2 tbsp of the shallots until they are translucent.  Add the pancetta and sauté for another minute.

2.  Add the fava beans and pepper, and stir until coated.  Add the ⅓ c water, cover the pot and cook over low heat for five minutes or until just tender.  Take off the heat and cool slightly.

3.  Divide the beans in two batches and puree half.  Set aside whole and pureed beans in one bowl.

4.  Cook the scallops next.  I use my handy cooktop to grill the scallops until they just opaque; you can also broil the scallops, or, if you have a second cook in the kitchen, do them over an outdoor grill just before adding to the risotto (see step 7).  If you are cooking at this stage, set aside when cooked and proceed with risotto recipe.

4.  If you haven't done so, rinse and chop the wild leeks, and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and foamy.  Add the remaining shallots and sauté until the shallots are translucent and golden. 

5.  Add the chopped wild leeks, and sauté for about a minute.  Add the rice and continue cooking gently, ensuring all of the rice is well coated with the oil.

6. Now the fun - and the slow cooking - begins.  Add the wine and stir slowly until just evaporated.  Continue adding the hot broth slowly, half a cup at a time, waiting until the broth is absorbed, before adding more.  Stir the rice constantly to ensure that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, and make sure the rice is not boiling at too high a temperature point.  The rice should take about 25 to 30 minutes to cook.  The risotto is done when the rice is chewy witn a slight firm centre - al dente.

7.  Stir in the grilled scallops and the reserved fava beans, heat through briefly and serve immediately.