With creamy rice, sautéed leeks, bubbly champagne, parmesan, lemon zest, and peas, this Champagne and Leek Risotto is a perfect late-winter or early spring dinner.
I was looking through my archives this past weekend when I was knee-deep in my site redesign (I hope everyone’s enjoying Striped Spatula’s new look and functionality!), and it suddenly struck me that I’ve never shared a recipe for risotto! It’s such a huge omission for me because this blog is, in so many ways, a catalog of the things I love, and risotto is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this weekend, I thought it would be a great time to make Champagne and Leek Risotto with Roasted Shrimp. With creamy rice, sautéed leeks, bubbly champagne, parmesan, and the fresh flavors of lemon zest and peas, a pot of this risotto is the perfect meal to share with the person you love.
As a process, risotto is pretty easy to make, though it does require some patience. By slowly cooking the rice (short-grain Arborio or Carnaroli) in single ladlefuls of hot broth, added only when the prior addition of liquid is absorbed, the starches are able to release from the grains and create a creamy sauce (without the addition of cream). The best risotto still has a slight bite (much like cooking pasta “al dente”) and is loose enough to fall from a spoon, without the liquid running in your plate. It isn’t the type of rice dish you can pop onto the stove and revisit in a half an hour. So, put on your comfiest pair of slippers and get ready to stir, stir, stir! The luscious, creamy rice is well worth the effort!
Once you have the basic technique and ratios down pat, risotto is an extremely versatile dish that’s easily customizable for the seasons. I love to make squash risotto in the fall, rich mushroom in the winter, and sweet corn in the summer. This particular recipe is comforting enough to warm you up on a cold winter’s night, but at the same time, is brightened with colors and flavors reminiscent of spring. (Frankly, I don’t care what the groundhog said; I’m ready to serve the cold weather its eviction notice!)
Risotto traditionally starts with a base of onions, but I love the delicate flavor that butter-sautéed leeks bring to the dish. (As I mentioned around this time last year, I’m crazy about leeks and cook with them whenever possible!) When preparing to make this recipe for Valentine’s Day, I decided to swap out the white wine I usually use to deglaze the pan for champagne. Aside from fitting with the holiday theme, it gave the finished risotto both a rounded flavor and a pleasant lightness that we thought complemented the shrimp and leeks well. I like to arrange the simple-roasted shrimp on top of the risotto (it’s how I had a seafood risotto served in a restaurant several years ago, and the presentation was so pretty that I started doing it at home). If you prefer, you can certainly remove the tails after roasting the shrimp, cut the meat into chunks, and stir them into the risotto just before serving. Any way you plate it, this risotto is true love!
Did you know that I have a weekly newsletter? Subscribe to stay up to date on what’s delicious on the blog with new and featured recipes and tips!
Champagne and Leek Risotto with Roasted Shrimp
- 6 cups chicken broth or stock
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped leeks (about 2-3 medium, white and light green parts, trimmed and washed well)
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 -1/2 cups arborio rice
- 3/4 cup champagne
- 3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
To roast the shrimp
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound raw shrimp (12-16 count), peeled and deveined, tails on
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Make the Risotto
Heat broth in a saucepan and keep warm.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt butter until foaming subsides. Add leeks and shallots and sauté until soft and just starting to brown, 5-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and rice, stirring to coat all of the rice grains. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add champagne and stir until almost completely absorbed, scraping the bottom of the pan.
Stir in one ladleful of hot broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, regulating heat to maintain a gentle, but steady bubble. Continue adding broth one ladleful at a time, gently stirring and only adding more liquid when the prior addition is nearly absorbed. Risotto is ready when rice grains are tender, but still have a slight chew in the center, and the texture looks creamy, about 25 minutes.
Remove risotto from heat and stir in peas, Parmigiano Reggiano, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and kosher salt to taste (I add about 1/2 teaspoon, but this will depend on your broth/stock). If your risotto becomes too thick after adding the cheese and peas, you can thin it out by stirring in a little extra broth.
Roast the Shrimp and Serve
When you start the risotto, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss shrimp with olive oil and a few pinches of kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until pink and firm. (I usually put the shrimp in the oven about 15 minutes into the risotto cooking process.)
To serve, spoon risotto onto warmed dishes and top with 3-4 shrimp per serving. Garnish with additional lemon zest and chopped herbs, if desired.