I don’t know about you, but every trip I go on leaves me wanting to travel and discover even more. Immersing oneself in foreign cultures and exploring local cuisines is such a thrilling experience as it offers glimpses of the incredible cultural diversity among humans. It also makes one realize that we are all a lot more similar than we think, and that the “otherness” is often nothing but an expression of the dreams, fears, and desires we share in different terms.
Traveling to a foreign country with an open mind allows us to leave our own point of view behind, and try out something new, and what better way to do that than through food! Which is why I was so excited to find out that the lovely Devaki from Weavethousandflavors has put together a fabulous Epicurean Voyage across Sicily where she will explore the local culture and food scene with a small group of people. The itinerary sounds fantastic, but space is limited to 16 people, so make sure to head on over to her blog and check it out for yourself.
In the meantime, you can ease any symptoms of the Italian travel bug with this delicious risotto, which features a medley of wonderful flavors and textures. The creamy saltiness of the risotto and soybeans contrasts beautifully with the sticky sweetness of the caramelized lemon peel and the earthy flavor of marjoram. I hope you’ll enjoy cooking and eating it as much as I did!
RISOTTO WITH SOYBEANS AND CARAMELIZED LEMON (SERVES 4)
- 300g risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano)
- 150g onion, finely chopped
- 200g frozen soybeans (edamame)
- parmigiano reggiano, grated
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh marjoram, finely chopped
- about 750ml hot vegetable broth
- dry white wine
- salt, pepper
- zest of 2 lemons
- 80g sugar + 80ml water
TO MAKE THE CARAMELIZED LEMON PEELS:
1. Using a sharp knife, peel lemons. Be careful to only peel off the outer yellow zest. Cut into very fine strips. Alternatively, use a zester for this task.
2. In a small saucepan or pot, bring sugar and water to the boil and cook until sugar starts to slightly change color.
3. Add lemon zest and continue cooking until sugar turns a light amber.
4. Deglaze with a few tablespoons of water, and cook until reduced to a sticky syrup.
5. Set aside and let cool.
TO MAKE RISOTTO:
1. In a large pot, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and sautee onion until translucent.
3. Add rice and cook, stirring for about 1 minute (do not brown rice!).
4. Deglaze with white wine (about 125ml or to taste) and stir until wine has evaporated.
5. Add enough broth to cover rice. Stir and boil uncovered until broth has been absorbed.
6. Repeat with remaining broth.
7. About 5 to 7 minutes before risotto is done, stir in frozen soybeans and continue cooking and stirring risotto until desired consistency has been achieved.
8. When risotto is al dente, remove from heat and stir in some grated parmigiano, a walnut sized piece of butter, and some freshly ground black pepper. Season with marjoram and salt to taste.
9. Plate risotto and garnish with lemon zest and some of the sugar syrup.