Summer time risotto – with balcony grown broad beans

DSC_0395_2Back in april, when it was still way too cold outside, I planted a broad bean in a bit of soil and put it in my window sill to grow. The seed, that was given to me at a food festival, was taped to a little piece of paper that stated that this single bean would one day become a big plant if only it was planted…

With some proper TLC from my side, the broad bean delivered on its promise and within a week or so grew into a tiny plant. I have grown many different plants from seeds, but this was definitely the most spectacular growing process I ever witnessed. When I transferred the small plant into a bigger pot and put it on my balcony, it grew taller and taller until it was an impressive 1.5 meters high and began to form beautiful flowers. The yellowish/black flowers were not only pretty but also proved to be a big hit with the neighborhood bees! When the flowers eventually turned into fat velvety pods, the time had finally come to start thinking of a recipe that would do them justice.


The first thing that came to my mind was to make a light vegetarian summer risotto. Although the word light should probably not be used in the same sentence as risotto, I do think I am allowed this time. My recipe does not call for butter, and because this is usually a mandatory part of any risotto recipe, I believe this recipe can pass as light. Do not worry, there is still enough cheese in it to make it nice and creamy. I feel confident enough to promise you that you will not even miss the butter!

Although my plant produced a decent amount of broad beans, it was unfortunately not enough for a full pot of risotto. That is why I also bought some nice fresh peas. I actually like this because the sweet pies help balancing out the slight bitterness of the broad beans.

When you use fresh broad beans for this dish, I would advice you to double pod them so you can see their lovely bright green color. If the term ‘double podding’ is new to you, or you do not yet know how to do it, the step by step tutorial below will break it down for you.

I think the meatiness of the dried tomatoes gives the risotto a nice bit of extra flavor and texture, but I have to warn you that they are very strong in flavor. If you do not like this you can easily leave them out or replace the dried tomatoes for something else.

Summer time risotto recipe: Cooking time 20 minutes.

Serves 2/3 people as a main course or 4 people as a starter.

  • 2 table spoons of olive oil
  • 700 ml vegetable/chicken stock
  • A glass of white wine/sherry
  • 2 small shallots/onion finely chopped
  • 200 gram risotto rice (Arborio)
  • 200 gram fresh broad beans/peas or a mix of the two (frozen is also an option)
  • 40 gram (small hand full) dried tomatoes sliced into thin strips
  • 125 gram asparagus tips
  • 100 gram fresh soft goatscheese
  • 100 gram grated parmezan cheese

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and soften the chopped shallots for one minute. Now add the rice and keep stirring for 3 more minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Make sure that the heat is not on too high and the onion and the rice do not brown.

To get risotto rice perfectly ‘al dente’ it needs to boil for approximately 16 minutes. After the rice has become translucent you can start by first adding the wine and then a ladle of stock to the rice and let it cook, gently stirring from the center to the side. Turn up the heat a little if necessary. Continue adding the stock, ladle by ladle, while stirring, allowing the rice to cook and the stock to be absorbed each time. After about 6 minutes add the dried tomatoes so they get some time to absorb the stock and to become a bit softer. Meanwhile just keep stirring and adding stock. After 5 more minutes add the broad beans and peas and keep stirring for the last 5 minutes.

In order to prevent the fragile asparagus tips from breaking while stirring,  you can blanche/cook them separately and add them at the last minute. If you are using regular chopped up green asparagus you can add them at the same time as the broad beans/peas.

When the risotto is ‘al dente’, which means that there is still a slight crunchiness in the middle of the rice, you can take the risotto of the heat. Always make sure that you taste the risotto first. Cooking is no exact science and it can happen that it needs a minute or two more. If this is the case do not panic and just add a little bit more stock and keep stirring.

Now add the asparagus tips, the goats cheese and the parmesan cheese and stir for 1-2 more minutes until the risotto becomes nice and creamy and is ready to serve.

Serve the risotto immediately and enjoy!