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Shrimp & Pea Saffron-Infused Risotto

New on Food Nouveau: Easy and delicious recipes every Thursday.

Shortly after publishing the new Food Nouveau, I decided to fade out Just Recipes, the recipe blog I started a little more than a year ago. Now that the content is better organized and recipes are easily accessible on Food Nouveau, it feels more logical to put all of my energy and efforts into one single blog.

I know that many readers loved the easier recipes I posted on Just Recipes. They actually reflect what E and I eat on weeknights: delicious, flavorful recipes that are quick and easy to put together. They’re often Asian-inspired, sometimes vegetarian, always easy to make and always delicious. People love how-tos, but nobody wants to embark on such a lengthy project when they come back from work.

The recipes that I will publish on Thursdays are dishes that are on heavy rotation at my home, the ones we frequently come back to when the “What’s for dinner?” question pops up every night.

I’m kicking things off with risotto. WHAT – risotto on a weeknight? Yes. It’s totally doable. The only ingredients you have to prep before starting the cooking process are the first ones going in (shallots and celery), then while the risotto is cooking away, you can prepare the remaining ingredients and add them when required by the recipe. It very rarely takes me more than 30 minutes all in all to make risotto, and the process is kind of relaxing, actually. Just stir and watch one of the most satisfying weeknight meals you’ll ever make come together before your eyes.

To make sure I can whip up risotto whenever we feel like having one (it’s at the very top of our comfort foods list), I always keep Arborio rice, organic stock (frozen or in Tetra-Paks), and parmigiano-reggiano on hand. My base is always the same (shallots and celery softened in olive oil and butter) and I let myself be inspired by what’s in the fridge. Cauliflower? Add parmigiano-reggiano and chili flakes and you end up with a dish that rivals the mac & cheese in the world. Fresh corn? Throw in crab meat for a delicious, fresh summer meal.

This week, I had peas and shrimp in the freezer. Knowing that it’s a common flavor combination in risotto, I searched online for inspiration and liked the addition of saffron for a Spanish-inspired twist. Purists say that no cheese should go in seafood risottos, but the salty and briny nature of pecorino-romano pairs exceptionally well with shrimp. You can leave it out completely if you don’t have any on hand.

With that, I leave you with the recipe. Try making risotto on a week night – you’ll love it.

Shrimp & Pea Saffron-Infused Risotto

Shrimp & Pea Saffron-Infused Risotto

Serves 2

Ingredients

2¼ cups [560 ml] fish or seafood stock
1 tbsp [15 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp [15 ml] butter
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 celery stalk, chopped finely
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp [pinch] saffron threads
¾ cup [80 ml] arborio or other Italian risotto rice
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] salt
½ cup [125 ml] white wine
½ lb [225 g] peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16/20 count), chopped
½ cup [125 ml] frozen peas, thawed
1 tbsp [15 ml] grated lemon peel
1 tbsp [15 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup [125 ml] pecorino-romano cheese, divided

Method

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to a minimum, so it remains steaming, but not simmering.

Heat oil in a large, shallow, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saffron and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and salt and stir to coat. Cook the rice until it looks translucent (the inner grain will remain opaque), a minute or two.

Stir the wine into the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to cook on medium-low heat, adding hot stock in ½-cup [125 ml] increments, and stirring frequently after each addition, until most of the liquid is absorbed. With the last addition, stir in shrimp and peas. Stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and the shrimp is just cooked through, about 4 minutes. The risotto is done when it looks creamy and just tender.

Remove from the heat. Stir in grated lemon peel, lemon juice, pepper and most of the pecorino-romano cheese, keeping a little just to sprinkle on top of each serving. Serve immediately in warm bowls, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Eating Well Magazine.

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