Nothing is fast and hard about this recipe; use whatever veggies you want in the ragout. Nice additions could be fennel, baby artichokes, tiny carrots, turnips or gold beets, spinach or arugula leaves, mushrooms (especially fresh morels), and additional fresh herbs such as chives, basil, mint, chervil or tarragon. You could also put a slab of grilled or broiled fish atop the stack and drizzle with extra lemon juice, olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs. Either way, have a bottle of crisp white wine handy, such as a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc; you'll need 1/4 cup each for the risotto and the ragout; the rest you will need for drinking.
While I am bossing you around, I'd recommend starting your meal with a perky salad, having some crusty bread handy for mopping up ragout juices, and finishing the meal with something bright, like lemon balm ice cream
or lemon-almond cake
with fresh berries.
The risotto is best eaten when just finished, otherwise the rice continues to absorb the liquid and becomes overly soft. To get the timing right, make the stock and prepare the ragout ingredients first. Begin the risotto next, and when it is halfway done, prepare the ragout. Have your peas and favas shucked and your favas blanched and slipped before beginning the risotto and things should be ready to go at the same time. If you find your risotto is cooking too quickly, just turn it off before it is done, then resume cooking it when you are almost ready to plate.
To make risotto cakes with leftover risotto:
Place 1/4 cup flour on a shallow plate. In a shallow bowl, beat an egg (or an egg white) until homogeneous. Fill another shallow bowl with a cup or two of fresh bread crumbs. Scoop up 1/4 cup cooled risotto (a spring loaded ice cream scoop works well for this) and pat into a patty with moistened hands. Dredge the patties first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wide skillet (preferably well-seasoned cast iron) and when it shimmers, carefully place the patties in the hot oil. Fry until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with leftover ragout, a dusting of parmesan and a green salad if you like.
Risotto adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
Nutritional values are based on one of five servings.