Spring Risotto

Time: 45 minutes    Yield: 6 servings.

For the pesto:
1/2 cup (packed) ramp leaves or young leeks or chives (or try green garlic)
1 1/2 cups (packed) spinach or Swiss chard leaves (or try arugula)
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed.

For the risotto:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced scallions (about 6 scallions)
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh shelled peas, or frozen
1/2 cup asparagus, sliced on bias in 1/2-inch chunks and blanched for two minutes
1 cup fava beans, shelled, blanched, skins removed (or use frozen edamame – much easier)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup grated grana padano or parmesan
Ground black pepper to taste.

1. For pesto: Put vegetables and salt in a blender or small food processor. With machine running, add oil slowly. Process into a rough paste. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

2. For risotto: In a heavy, wide, 3 to 4-quart casserole or pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook scallions and shallots together until translucent, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat and cook until edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Pour wine into pot and stir well until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup hot stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed into rice. Add another half cup stock and stir so rice remains moist. Stir in peas, asparagus and favas. Keep adding small amounts of stock, stirring constantly so rice slowly absorbs liquid. Rice should simmer very gently and become creamy but al dente. This will take a total of about 18 minutes.

4. Remove pot from heat and quickly stir in ramp pesto. Add butter and continue to stir quickly until melted; then mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Taste and add remaining salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, ladled into warm shallow bowls. Top with remaining cheese.

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich and Kim Severson in the New York Times – originally called The Pope’s Risotto for no religious reason whatsoever.