Friday, May 3, 2013

An unexpected day at home + a perfect spring risotto

I'm just a few short weeks from completing my first school year as the full time working mother of two, and I think that overall it has been a success. When I am home, I'm happy to be home; when I am at work, I'm happy to be at I guess that is a win. But on those occasional days when I've got a sick kid who has to stay home from day care, I like to pretend I'm still a stay at home mom. The thing is, I'm really good at it. My boys and I spent those two and a half years fine-tuning a highly functional system, and when I'm unexpectedly handed a day at home with the kids, it comes back so naturally. Don't get me wrong, having a sick kid is, hands-down, the hardest part of being a working parent, particularly when you work in education and have to deal with subs and sub plans and the terror of finding out what happened in the library in your absence the next day. But once I've got the professional details handled, I sink so happily into the familiarity of being home with my boys.

Emmett came down with an out of nowhere crazy high fever at dinner time last night. Finn could have gone to school but, as he so eloquently explained to me this morning, "I just kind of feel like I need a day at home." Don't we all, kid? So home we stayed. Sean actually spent the morning with the boys and passed the baton to me at lunchtime when I returned from a morning at work. And how did I spend my afternoon? In between stories and snuggles and naps, I made a batch of homemade chicken broth which led naturally into making a wonderful pot of risotto.

Risotto is, in my opinion, the perfect dish for enjoying the experience of being in the kitchen. It's not super quick, and it is definitely not hands-off, but for those evenings when you have the time and inclination to stand at the stove stirring, it can be a really blissful process. Tonight was that night for me. This recipe features the beautiful spring flavors of asparagus and baby if your farmer's market, like mine, kicks off the season this weekend, get your hands on some early asparagus and make some of this. You won't regret it.

Happy spring, all!

Asparagus and Pea Risotto
Adapted from Weight Watchers

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 - 14 1/2 oz. cans reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), cleaned and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen baby peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the asparagus from the broth. Set asparagus aside to cool.
  2. Lower the heat under the broth and keep at a simmer.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until coated with the oil, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed. Add the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed before adding more, until the rice is tender but firm in the center, about 20 minutes total.
  4. Stir in the asparagus and peas with the last addition of broth. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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