brussel sprout and fig risotto

When I was a senior in college, my friend Kevin concocted this elaborate scavenger hunt around Boston as a way to send us on our way to graduation. There were a few stops that day that were particularly memorable but I'll always remember visiting the Haymarket Market. I'm not sure exactly what the challenge was but I believe it had something to do with touching a fish - which I hate doing.

Fast forward to present day. I now live across the street-ish from this market and buy most of cooking produce from these stands on Saturday mornings. I'd give Haymarket credit for getting me to love brussel sprouts (this time and this time). Just like most of the things I now love, I once thought they were weird and hated them.

I'm not really sure what the "season" is for brussel sprouts but I do know that I was unable to find them for two weeks at the market... which is why I was super excited when I saw these GLORIOUS green babies at the market last weekend. (Yep, this post is a week delayed. I had the flu.) I mean they are the prettiest sprouts I've ever seen ... and to think I paid like nothing for them.

I had stumbled upon this risotto recipe a few weeks back and kept it in the back of my mind. Like most risotto recipes, it's really easy ... once you get the risotto base made that is. I've made risotto a whole bunch of times... and it's one of those dinners that provides the comfort of mac and cheese with a touch of class. Especially if you add figs. Which I did.
I'm happy to say that while I've been cooking a lot in the last year or two, each recipe that I'm compelled to try is new and different to me for one reason or another. This one had two new twinges to it: figs and shaved brussel sprouts. Both of which will find themselves repeated sooner than never. The figs bring a great sweet little twist to this risotto. The shaved brussel sprouts are really refreshing ... and I can't wait to make them a salad.
This recipe isn't going to win you any photography awards. Risotto is tasty, not pretty. Uncooked brussel sprouts are bright and green ... cooked? Not quite the same. But the between the lemon and the fig, this risotto is a fair bit different than others ... and has a lighter taste to it. I can see some strong recipe revisions for a great summer risotto in our future. Any by our, I mean me and Eleanor.

Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Place the broth and water in a medium saucepan over low heat and keep at a very low simmer.

(Step 2) Place the figs in a small heatproof bowl, add 1/2 cup of the broth, and stir to combine; set aside.

(Step 3) In a large wide pot, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

(Step 4) Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels start to crackle, about 1 to 2 minutes. I'm not sure how important this is but really, be patient and wait for the crackle. Stir in the wine and let simmer, stirring often, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 to 4 minutes.

(Step 5) Pour a ladleful of the simmering broth over the rice. Let simmer, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding the broth, stirring and letting it absorb, until the rice is al dente, about 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on how it goes for you, you may not use up all the broth or you may need a little bit more. If you need more, just add water. It's no big deal. Taste as you go for doneness.

(Step 6) While the risotto is cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, season with salt, and stir to coat in the oil. Add the reserved fig-broth mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are wilted and the pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.

(Step 7) Add the lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

(Step 7) When the risotto is done and the brussel sprout mixture is done... combine them. Not complicated.

(Step 8) Add the Parmesan and parsley and stir to combine. If necessary, add any of the followings: salt, pepper, love, parmesan, or lemon juice.

(Step 9) Just before serving, loosen the risotto to the desired consistency with a little more broth or hot water and serve immediately.

Adapted from this recipe

Shopping List
1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup dried figs, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cored and very thinly sliced
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

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