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Creamy Saffron & Asparagus Risotto



Ingredients:
3   cups (750 mL) unsalted chicken stock
1/4   tsp (1 mL) saffron threads
3   medium shallots
1.5   tbsp (22 mL) olive oil
1   cup (250 mL) uncooked Arborio rice
3/4   cup (175 mL) dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
8   oz (250 g) fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-in. (2.5-cm) pieces
2   oz (60 g) Parmesan cheese, grated (about cup/125 mL), divided
1/2   tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2   tsp (2 mL) coarsely ground black pepper
1   oz (30 g) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
Directions:
  1. In (1.5-qt./1.4-L) Saucepan, bring stock and saffron to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop shallots using Food Chopper. In (10-in./24-cm) Skillet, cook oil and shallots over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add rice; cook and stir 1 minute or until rice is evenly coated with oil. Add wine; cook 3-4 minutes or until wine is evaporated, stirring often with Bamboo Spoon.
  3. Using Ladle, pour cup (125 mL) of the hot stock into Skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes or until stock is absorbed, stirring constantly. Repeat with remaining stock in -cup (125-mL) increments, cooking and stirring 2-3 minutes after each addition until all but cup (125 mL) of the stock has been added (15-17 minutes total cook time).
  4. Add remaining cup (125 mL) stock, asparagus, 1/3 cup (75 mL) of the Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper to Skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove Skillet from heat. Add cream cheese and stir until incorporated. Divide risotto among serving bowls and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrients per serving: U.S Nutrients per serving: Calories 240, Total Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 2.5 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Sodium 380 mg, Carbohydrate 30 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 10 g U.S. Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat (2 carb)

Cook's Tips: Keeping the stock hot during cooking ensures that the rice cooks evenly by not allowing the temperature of the rice to drop. Adding the saffron to the stock first gives the saffron time to infuse its exotic fragrance and yellow hue into the risotto.