holidays & recipes: earth day with a spring green risotto recipe by the barefoot contessa

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa) Farmers Market Fredericksburg

In 1962 a book called Silent Spring was published. Written by Rachel Carson and originally published as a series of three articles in the New Yorker, the book discussed the effects of insecticides and pesticides on songbird populations. Her book helped spur a movement that led to environmental legislation.

Silent Spring celebrates its 50th anniversary. Written during a time when mainstream America was largely unconcerned and/or unaware of environmental issues Silent Spring became a New York Times bestseller and was published in 24 countries, selling 500,000 copies. Rachel Carson lit a spark that grew into a fire when the first Earth Day took place and that fire is growing still.

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was created to increase public awareness of global environmental issues. Approximately 20 million people participated. Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin) was the force behind Earth Day. He was an environmentalist who witnessed the destruction of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Nelson wanted to bring attention to the grassroots environmental movement.

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa) Farmers Market Fredericksburg

“The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda. “ -Senator Nelson

In July, 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order. Both the Republicans and Democrats supported the legislation to create the agency as well as the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

By 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, over 200 million people in 141 countries participated in Earth Day events, promoting environmental awareness around the globe. In the new millennium, 42 years after the first Earth Day, we live in a world that has been connected by the lightening speed of the internet. It has never been easier to organize and coordinate a global movement.

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa) Farmers Market Fredericksburg

The Earth Day Network predicts that “more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012 and help Mobilize the Earth.” The Earth Day Network is promoting a Billion Acts of Green®. This is the “world’s largest service campaign. With over 800 million environmental actions registered on the Earth Day Network website… Earth Day Network is working hard to make the final push to reach one billion environmental commitments before the United Nations Rio +20 Conference in June 2012.”

{Just for Fun An Adorable Alpaca at the Farmers Market}

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa) Farmers Market Fredericksburg

Take a look at the Billion Acts of Green® page on the Earth Day Network. You can pledge an act as simple as planting a tree or as complex as organizing an Earth Day event. It can be overwhelming to make a huge commitment to live a green life. Changing your lifestyle overnight is impossible, but if you start by making one simple pledge and stick to that one commitment it is a good start.

One change that many people have been making is to eat more locally grown foods. This is noticeable as the crowd at farmer’s markets is growing. In an article titled “10 Reasons to Eat Local Food” on the site Life Begins at 30 the first reason for eating local is, surprisingly, not environmental, but financial.

“Eating local means more for the local economy.” While seemingly a financial reason it actually supports the environment. When people have more discretionary income they might spend it on more environmentally sound purchases. We know that buying environmentally products, say cleaning products, is often more expensive (even if pennies) than the store brand. Keeping the local economy fluid helps everyone and the environment.

The list points out all the benefits of eating locally, such as freshness and variety. And, of course the list includes the benefits for the environment. Eating locally and organic is an even better decision for our bodies and the environment.

As spring is in full swing and the farmer’s markets are coming to life again this is the perfect time to make a pledge to leave a greener life by eating locally grown foods. Plus, going to the farmer’s market, once you have gone enough, is socially rewarding, too as you will quickly realize that the same people visit the market each week and that is always the perfect way to network and make new friends.

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa) Farmers Market Fredericksburg

Spring Green Risotto (Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa)
This is a wonderful dish that we eat for dinner or use as a side dish for large gatherings.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Note: We omitted the fennel.

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)

3. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

4. Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.


Photography Data:
Sony P&S DSC-H50
Featured Photographer
Camille Armellino
ISO 100
F4

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16 comments

  • April 19, 2012 at 9:23 pm //

    This gorgeously green dish is perfect to celebrate earth day!

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm //

      Thank you so much Joanne, this is such a wonderful risotto recipe by The Barefoot Contessa.

  • April 19, 2012 at 9:23 pm //

    This gorgeously green dish is perfect to celebrate earth day!

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm //

      Thank you so much Joanne, this is such a wonderful risotto recipe by The Barefoot Contessa.

  • April 20, 2012 at 12:31 am //

    Ahaha, I did not expect that fuzzball after those food pictures – handsome guy! :)

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm //

      Isn’t he adorable?

  • April 20, 2012 at 12:31 am //

    Ahaha, I did not expect that fuzzball after those food pictures – handsome guy! :)

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm //

      Isn’t he adorable?

  • April 20, 2012 at 5:58 am //

    I’m such a fan of risotto…cooking it and eating it. These veggies look amazing!

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm //

      Thank you so much Cassie, we had such a fun time at the farmers market, I’m glad we got to meet Mr. Muppet!

  • April 20, 2012 at 5:58 am //

    I’m such a fan of risotto…cooking it and eating it. These veggies look amazing!

    • April 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm //

      Thank you so much Cassie, we had such a fun time at the farmers market, I’m glad we got to meet Mr. Muppet!

    • April 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm //

      Isn’t it such a great recipe Lorraine? We really love her recipe, and it’s so yummy too. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • April 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm //

      Isn’t it such a great recipe Lorraine? We really love her recipe, and it’s so yummy too. Thank you so much for commenting.