Saffron risotto with vegetables in curry cream sauce

Makes 4 servings

Because this recipe has two distinct elements, it’s perfect for a cooking duo, one making the risotto, the other making the vegetables. The dish is aromatic, colorful, and elegant. It’s best when prepared just before serving.

For the risotto

4 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup Chardonnay
Generous pinch of saffron threads, crushed
1 tablespoon hot water
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

For the vegetables

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 carrots, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 red bell pepper in ¼-inch dice
¼ cup minced shallots
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
¼ cup Chardonnay
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
Sprigs of fresh cilantro and chives for garnish

To make the risotto, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a small saucepan.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.

Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates.

Soften the saffron in the water; add to the rice. Pour ½ cup of the simmering stock into the rice (maintain a cooking temperature high enough so that the hot broth continues bubbling after it is added to the rice). Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue adding stock ½ cup at a time, stirring until it is mostly absorbed and evaporated before adding more. Cook the risotto, adding stock as needed, until the rice is tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

To prepare the vegetables, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and bell pepper; cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the shallots; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the curry powder and ginger, then add the Chardonnay and lemon zest; simmer for about 1 minute. Add the cream; simmer, cooking occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by about one-third. Season to taste.

To serve, top individual servings of risotto with the vegetables and sauce. Or, for each serving, form the risotto in a round cylinder. Unmold on the plate and top with the vegetables and sauce. Garnish with the cilantro and scatter the plate with chives.

Advance preparation

This dish is best when prepared just before serving.