Spring Vegetable Risotto with Fava Beans, Morels and Pea Vines
Risotto is a traditional Italian dish that you can find in many of the state's finest restaurants (and not just Italian ones). It is infinitely adaptable, changing along with the seasons. In spring, morel mushrooms start to pop up in the mountains; searching for them with someone skilled in mushroom identification is a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience. The addition of fava beans, known in Italian as carne di poveri or "poor man's meat" owing to their high protein content, adds a slightly nutty, buttery and vibrant greenness to the risotto that surely heralds the coming of spring.
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth Add to list
- 1/4 pound pancetta, diced Add to list
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided Add to list
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided Add to list
- 6 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned and sliced Add to list
- 1/2 pound shelled fava beans (see note) Add to list
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste Add to list
- 1 small onion, finely chopped Add to list
- 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice Add to list
- 1/2 cup dry white wine Add to list
- 1 cup fresh pea vines, plus a few more for garnish Add to list
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram Add to list
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese Add to list
In a medium saucepan, bring broth nearly to a boil, then reduce heat to low to keep warm. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, render and then crisp up the pancetta. Drain the pancetta on a paper towel, leaving some fat in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pancetta fat and heat over medium-low heat. Add morels and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add favas and cook until warmed through, another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat remaining olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains of rice are mostly translucent but with an opaque center, about 3 minutes.
Add wine, stirring until the wine is almost completely absorbed. Add a ladle of broth (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue adding broth one ladleful at a time and cooking, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed, before adding another ladle of broth. After about 15 minutes, begin tasting the risotto before adding each new ladle of broth. When the rice is nearly done — firm but not crunchy — add another ladleful of broth, along with the morels, favas, pea vines, pancetta and marjoram.
Continue stirring, and when the broth has been absorbed, the rice should be al dente. Stir in a little more broth along with the Parmigiano, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with a few tender pea vine tips.
To shell favas, open the whole bean pod along the seam and pull each bean from the pod. Blanch the beans in salted water for 1 minute, then drain and chill in an ice water bath. Use your fingernails to pinch a bit of skin off one side of the bean. Squeeze the skin at the opposite side to pop out the bean.
Recipe by, PCC Cooks instructor
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