You know when you’ve tasted something so incredible that just the thought of it sends your senses into total ecstasy? Something you know that you could eat every day for the rest of your life and be perfectly content? For me, that taste was saffron shrimp risotto in Alberobello. For a thousand reasons I love Italy.. and 999 of them are culinary related.
I soo wanted this dish to bring back that experience. Maybe its not the same in Seattle, but trying to reconstruct a recipe of Apulian Italian fare is like trying to recreate a Picasso. There are no cookbooks. There are no recipes. Still, very much old-world, your bests bet is to hover and take notes wildly while observing the preparation. You’ll likely end up with something like–a handful of this, a drizzle of that, two more handfuls of this, a sprinkle, a dollup, and then stir. Buon appetito. Meals are prepared by memory, passed from mother to daughter and varying from household to household. So charming, yet frustrating if you ever want to bring your favorite meals back to The States.
Longing for this risotto in my own Seattle kitchen, I wrote down the ingredients I knew–risotto, saffron, fava beans, shrimp, olive oil and cheese. Then I attempted to write a recipe, referencing several risottos on the web. The result was delicious, but not quite as euphoric as that day in Puglia. Maybe it was the whole experience that left such an impression. Maybe it was the Prosecco. Or maybe its my subconscious’ way of telling me I need to go back.
Saffron & Shrimp Risotto
4 cups shrimp stock
1 tsp Spanish saffron
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 T olive oil
2 tsp butter
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup rough chopped shitaake mushrooms
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned
2 T Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup dry fava beans
1 cup water
1 T flour
salt and pepper
Start with the fava beans, as they will take 2 hours to slow cook (so worth the creamy result). Add beans to salted water–boil and reduce to simmer. After one hour add flour. After two hours remove from heat and puree in food processor. While beans are cooking, bring the shrimp stock to a rolling boil in a saucepan, then reduce to low heat and add saffron. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a skillet, melt the butter in olive oil. Sauté onion for two minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another two minutes, add shrimp and cook two more minutes. Next stir in the risotto and slowly begin to add the broth, allowing rice to absorb it as you go (the rice should take about 20 minutes). Once risotto is al dente, pour in rich and creamy fava bean puree. Top with Pecorino and parsley.
Fava Fun Facts: Oh-so-nutritious!! There are 10g fiber and protein in just 1/4 cup (dry)!! Make a note–any time you have something starchy like risotto, its good to balance the meal with something high fiber to stabilize blood sugar. Aside from fiber, these beans are loaded with folate and manganese– ahem, healthy bones, efficient metabolism, and beneficial to blood pressure. Yes, please! Might I suggest squeeeezing these beans into your monthly meal plan? The trick is tracking them down. I finally found fava beans at Whole Foods (naturally). And from Bob’s Red Mill (of course). So what else can you dooooo with fava beans? Not to worry. I will be sharing more recipes, as they will certainly be gracing my table more often. 🙂
Have a favoloso Sunday!!
The most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten?
The last ingredient you really had to hunt down?