Rose Petal Risotto: The Most Romantic Lunch On Earth
The Most Romantic Risotto Ever!
This is an absolutely stunning risotto that I first enjoyed in Bolzano, that far northern Italian city which is far more Austrian than Italian. I begged the chef for the recipe and since that time it has been one of my treasured favorites and if you prepare it exactly according to the recipe, it will be fully vegan.
There are a couple of steps that are best taken prior to preparing the most romantic vegetarian meal for two on Earth. All the steps are super easy, but be warned that it does take a little time. The first one is the preparation of the vegetable stock which must be freshly made, no tetra packaged mystery broths, please.
The preparation of the vegetable broth is simplicity itself, and you can use the ends of the veggies that you would likely discard anyway.
1/4 lb. broccoli or cauliflower (stems are fine)
1/4 lb. carrots
1/4 lb. celery
1/4 lb. celeriac (or use half parsnip and half turnip)
1/4 lb. kale (or red cabbage)
1/4 lb. yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic (I use a full bulb, but that's because I'm trying to keep vampires away)
Toss the whole pile into a big pot and cover with water, at least three quarts/litres. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer. Go watch an evening's TV or go out and catch a movie. Several hours later, the 3 quarts of water should be about halved, and the veggies nothing but mush. Pour the liquid through a colander reserving it, and toss the veggie mush into the compost heap. Refrigerate overnight.
About 40 minutes before you are ready to serve lunch, go get yourself out of your own garden (never a florist) three big red roses that you know haven't been sprayed with Raid or anthrax or anything like that. Wash the roses thoroughly and place into a bowl of water. Now remove the cooking liquid from the fridge and place on the stove. Bring to a boil. Now you're ready to start the main attraction.
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup dry, good quality wine
1 cup fresh tiny peas (or use Green Giant Baby Sweet Frozen peas)
12 pistles of saffron (use powder if you are forced to)
Extra virgin olive oil
Drop the saffron into the boiling liquid. Turn it to a slow boil. Dice the onion finely and saute in a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil until translucent. Drop in the rice and keep stirring until the rice is starting to become golden brown. Don't make any plans because you're not going anywhere. Add one ladle of boiling liquid to the rice and keep stirring constantly and I mean nonstop until it's absorbed and just moist (or you'll end up with rice pancake) then hit it with another ladle and stir, stir, stir. Keep it up until the risotto is creamy and it's absorbed up all but the last two ladles of liquid. Now toss the peas into the skillet, pour the wine into the cooking liquid pot and add the petals from one of the roses. yes, the petals! Swish the liquid around for a bit until it almost gets to a boil, then strain out the rose petals, pour into the skillet and let that absorb in while always stirring gently. Once it has, remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Don't worry about the peas being undercooked, they're supposed to be that way.
For the lacto-ovo variant add a huge wad of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano as soon as it comes off the heat and a goodly stir.
Now comes the romance: After 5 minutes garnish with the two whole roses and maybe a few more petals, serve to your very special someone and watch their eyes light up!