Cooking and eating with the seasons means fresher ingredients, higher nutrition, and a deeper connection with nature and Earth. Our recipe for Summer Vegetable Saffron Risotto is an aromatic and creamy rice dish with the flexibility to choose the summer produce available to you. We developed this recipe using a hands-free cooking method where most of the work happens in the oven rather than continuously stirring the pot over the stovetop (which can still be done with this recipe if you choose).
While in the oven, the rice cooks to al dente as the saffron gives it a naturally vibrant yellow hue. Saffron is derived from the flower Crocus sativus, specifically the vivid crimson stigma and styles known as threads. This spice is known to possess many health benefits such as powerful antioxidants, mood support, and sexual health to name a few. Once finished, the dish becomes delicately perfumed by the saffron, providing an earthy yet floral aroma with just a hint of sweetness. Mix in your vegetables of choice and you have a hearty and satisfying meal guided by the seasons.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided (sub: ghee)
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced (about 3 tsp)
- Generous pinch of saffron threads, grinded down
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
- ⅓ cup parmesan, to taste, finely grated (sub: pecorino romano or nutritional yeast)
- 2 cups summer vegetables of your choice: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, kale, spinach, zucchini
- Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large lidded oven-safe pot (or Dutch oven) on the stove over medium. Add the olive oil, 2 tbsp of butter, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is mostly translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
Next, add the rice and stir until incorporated, allowing the rice to toast in the pot for about 3 minutes. Pour in 4 cups of chicken broth along with a generous pinch of saffron. Cover the pot with a lid and bake for 45 minutes and until the rice is al dente.
While the risotto is in the oven, prepare your choice of summer vegetables by flash-cooking them in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the risotto is done, quickly add the remaining cup of chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, parmesan, and salt. Stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes to encourage the rice to release its starches and create a thick and creamy consistency.
Fold in the vegetables, leaving behind just enough to top each dish with. Serve warm.