Risotto with Green Beans and Yellow Bell Pepper

Risotto coi Fagiolini Verdi e il Peperone Giallo

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If the Italian word for summer were not estate, which in English has meanings wholly unrelated to the season, it would have become part of the title of this risotto, a warm-weather companion to the well-known primavera, the risotto with spring vegetables. Title aside, it is very much a summer dish, whether or not your market has yellow peppers and green beans all year round. It tastes and looks like summer, the appropriate time for enjoying it.

I give the beans a preliminary blanching so that, when sautéed with the onion, they can absorb more flavor than they would if they were completely raw. The pepper is quicker to draw flavor so I don’t precook it. Although their most important contribution is the flavor they release while the rice is stirred, I am happy to see the bits of green bean and yellow pepper around at the end, when they give the finished risotto a cheery, summery look.

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Ingredients

  • A yellow bell pepper
  • ½ pound green beans
  • Salt
  • tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 6 cups homemade meat broth, prepared or a bouillon cube dissolved in 6 cups simmering water or ½ cup canned beef broth diluted with 5 ½ cups water
  • 1⅔ cups carnaroli, arborio, or other imported Italian rice for risotto

For Mantecare

  • tablespoons butter
  • cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Black pepper ground fresh

Method

  1. Split the pepper, remove the pulpy core and seeds, and cut enough of the pepper flesh into ½-inch squares to produce 1 cup. (If there is pepper left over, shred it and add it to a mixed salad.)
  2. Snap both ends off the beans, and wash the beans in cold water. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add a liberal amount of salt, which will keep the beans green; and as the water resumes boiling, drop in the beans. When the water returns to a boil, cook the beans another minute and a half, then drain. Cut the partly cooked beans into lengths of 1 inch.
  3. Put tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and the chopped onion into the pot where you will be making the risotto, and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook the onion, stirring it frequently, until it becomes colored a pale gold.
  4. Add the pepper squares, turn up the heat, and cook the pepper for about half a minute, turning it to coat it well. Add the green beans, turn them several times to coat them well, and cook, always at high heat, for 3 or 4 minutes.
  5. While the beans are cooking, pour the broth into a saucepan; bring it to and keep it at a slow, sputtering simmer on a burner close to the risotto pot.
  6. Add the rice to the beans and pepper, turning it over thoroughly and continuously for about half a minute to coat it well and combine it with the vegetables. Add 1 cup of simmering broth, and cook the rice, stirring it and periodically adding liquid, as described in the basic risotto. Finish cooking the rice, stirring always and adding broth when needed, until it is tender but firm to the bite, about 25 minutes.
  7. Off heat, perform the mantecare step, whisking in tablespoons of butter, the grated Parmesan, and liberal grindings of black pepper. Turn the risotto over four or five times with your wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt, transfer to a warm platter, and serve at once.

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