Butter Bean Risotto
A creamy risotto is all I’m craving when the cooler weather creeps in. To blanket my fix I whipped up this risotto with summer's last batch of fresh butter beans from Stoney’s Produce in Virginia Beach. At first apprehensive, the sweet lady in the produce place reassured me that they weren’t the horrid lima beans I’d had as a youngster—pale green things I'd only known for being canned and mushy. I learned butter beans are actually one variety of the lima bean. My earlier run-in was with its starchy, tart cousin, so I was ready to welcome the sweeter southern staple of a butter bean. As we bid adieu to summer, butter beans are at the heart of this risotto. Butter beans can go just as well on their own, but folding them into my risotto seemed more fitting this time around.
I’ve wanted to make risotto for a while now, but if you’ve gone the risotto route, you know it is time-consuming to say the least, and standing over a hot pot in 90-degree weather is not my idea of a speedy weekly dinner. This one’s for the weekend when time is not of the essence allowing me to whip up something new. With the cooler weather, camping near a stove is alright with me. For a good 45 minutes, the fresh thyme and white wine infusing the risotto is an aroma I can get behind. Though brown rice certainly takes longer to reach al dente, it’s healthier so you can rest in the fact that you’re probably going to be eating this for the next couple days. In addition to the butter beans, the mushrooms and asparagus add a real meatiness to this dish. Once the cheese is poured in, you’re ready for a full-fledged fall meal. So, pull up your sleeves, and let’s get stirring!
Time: About 1 hour and 15 minutes total
Yield: 8 servings
2 tbsp butter
*2 cups fresh butter beans
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cups short grain brown rice
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
*Keep in mind you can always purchase canned butter beans.
To cook the fresh butter beans: In a saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Rinse butter beans, transfer to the saucepan and sauté in butter for about 5 minutes. Fill pan with enough water to cover beans. Bring to a boil then cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, drain, then set cooked butter beans aside.
For the risotto: Warm the vegetable broth and water in a pot on medium heat. Meanwhile, in a separate medium pot sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until tender. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add brown rice and dried thyme and stir until rice is lightly toasted for about 5 minutes. Pour in white wine, stir until evaporated. Next, add heated broth and water mixture one cup at a time, waiting until the liquid has absorbed completely before adding the next cup. Repeat until all broth has been used. Stir quite constantly on low heat just so that the risotto is bubbling. Remove from heat, and stir in parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.