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Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

Spring has sprung! At least it has here in south Louisiana. The weather has been just beautiful here lately – a combination of cool and warm days and some pretty chilly nights. Perfect spring weather! We don’t always get that here, but this year, it has been nice. In honor of spring, I’m bringing you a simple spring vegetable risotto recipe made with brown short-grained rice and to accompany that, a whole roasted yellowtail snapper. It’s a perfect meal to help you celebrate spring’s arrival.

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

Typically I try to talk about some type of culture-related aspect of the recipes I publish, but today we’re just going to talk about the food. Where I’m from, we don’t really have a tradition of risotto, and while whole roasted fish are common here, I don’t have any personal attachment or memories associated with them. In fact, this is one of the first whole-roasted fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! I swear, it’s true.

Let’s start with the risotto since it’s the star of the recipe duo, and then we’ll move into talking about the fish. When I think of spring, I think of fresh veggies and salads, normally. Something else I also think of is a spring veggie risotto. I don’t even know why – I’ve probably seen it on a number of restaurant menus. This is my version of that venerable dish, complete with asparagus tips, snow peas, and oyster mushrooms. Those were the tastiest spring veggies I could find between my local farmer’s market and the Whole Foods.

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

I was pleased with the way the risotto turned out. Oh and I mentioned before – I used short-grained brown rice in this dish. It takes a little longer to cook and can be a little less creamy if you aren’t careful. However, the version I made was delicious and creamy – WIN! I took a tip from a couple of recipes I consulted to construct my recipe and par-cooked the brown rice beforehand. It helped the risotto cook a bit faster and also helped to break down the rough brown rice pieces. This is the first time I’ve done a brown rice risotto, and I am going to continue to do so. It’s a bit more healthy, and it has a richer flavor than white short-grained rice.

Let’s talk about the fish, shall we? Now that I do my grocery shopping on the weekends again (as opposed to during the weekday – what a luxury that was!!), Jeremy typically accompanies me. It’s nice to have someone to shop with, and he loves going to the farmer’s market and Whole Foods to see what kinds of treats and interesting things he can find. A couple of weeks ago he spotted these lovely yellowtail snapper at our local Whole Foods. They were so pretty and fresh looking, and at $10.99 per pound, it was in our price range. The fish we purchased was just under 18 ounces so we only paid about $14.00 for it. Not bad, really considering that the fish was already gutted and scaled. Basically, it was oven-ready. Perfect!

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

Our most common snapper around here is, of course, red snapper. This is really the first time I can remember seeing yellowtail snapper around here. But honestly, that doesn’t mean much – I don’t really peruse the fish stock at grocery stores like I probably should. This yellowtail snapper is a Gulf fish meaning it was caught locally. It’s not exclusive to the Gulf – it’s actually considered an Atlantic Ocean fish and can be found as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as Brazil. That’s a wide range, for sure. As expected, the fish was tender and delicious. The flesh was delicate, flaky and white – perfect for our south Louisiana taste buds!

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

Whole roasting a fish could not be easier, especially when you can get it already scaled and gutted. All I did was rinse it off, pat it dry, then rubbed it with neutral oil, salt and pepper. That’s it. Once I stuck it in the oven, it was ready to eat in just over a half hour. It’s a perfect weeknight meal that pairs great with this risotto (if you have time) or a simple, hearty salad if you’re short on time. Either way, adding whole roasted fish to your diet is an easy way to eat lean, healthy protein. You may pay a little more for it, but to me, it’s worth it. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you get what you pay for, especially where high quality meat and seafood are concerned.

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

I’m keeping it short and sweet today – I hope you don’t mind. 😉 What’s your favorite whole fish to roast? If you haven’t tried it yet, which fish sounds to you like it would be a tasty choice? Let me know in the comments – I’m eager to hear what you like!

Yield: 2 servings (with leftover risotto)

Spring Vegetable Risotto Recipe with Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper

This spring vegetable risotto recipe is packed with asparagus, snow peas and oyster mushrooms. Best of all, its paired with a delicious whole roasted yellowtail snapper.

Ingredients:

Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper:

  • 1-1 to 1.5 pound yellowtail snapper, scaled and gutted (substitutes: any other type of snapper, speckled trout or black sea bass)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like olive, grape seed or safflower)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spring Vegetable Risotto:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup short-grained brown rice
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bunch asparagus, hard ends removed; cut stalks into 1” pieces (about  2 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces snow peas, whole
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about  2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method:

Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 ºF.
  2. Pat the snapper dry and make two slits on both sides of the fish. Try for a 45 degree angle.
  3. Rub the fish with the oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Set on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a non-stick mat or parchment paper.
  5. For now, set fish aside. In Step #11 of the risotto, you’ll be notified to stick the snapper in the oven.
  6. Pick up here when you start on Step #11 of the risotto instructions: Transfer baking sheet to the oven and roast the fish for 35 minutes, or until the flesh near the bone is opaque and white. Serve with spring veggie risotto.
  7. Prep / Cook times for fish only: 5 minutes prep; 35 minutes cooking

Spring Vegetable Risotto:

  1. Bring the six cups of water to boil in a medium sized pot. Stir in salt and brown rice, and adjust the heat down so that the water bubbles steadily. Cook the rice without stirring, until the rice has absorbed some of the water and is on the tender side, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain remaining water from pot but do not rinse the rice. Set aside rice for now - you can leave it in the colander you strained it in.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat the chicken stock to a boil. Parboil the asparagus tips in the stock by adding the asparagus to the stock for one minute. Remove the asparagus with tongs or a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath to cool.
  3. Next parboil the snow peas. Add to the stock after you’ve removed the asparagus. Cook for one minute then place in a separate ice bath to cool down. Turn the stock off of the flame but keep it on the stove to use in the risotto.
  4. Once the snow peas cool, trim the ends and slice about 1/4 inch thick. In the end, you should end up with about a cup of sliced snow peas.
  5. Drain the asparagus and place the par-boiled asparagus and snow peas in a mixing bowl until ready to add to the risotto later.
  6. Once the rice is done and the asparagus and snow peas are parboiled, you can start cooking the risotto itself.
  7. In a medium-large pot over medium-high heat, melt the first two tablespoons of unsalted butter.
  8. Add the onion, kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, until onion is softened and slightly browned.
  9. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute, until garlic is fragrant.
  10. Add in the par-cooked rice and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is glossy and coated with butter, about 1-2 minutes.
  11. Next, start to add the stock, about a half cup at a time, stirring after each addition and then every minute or so. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. Keep the heat medium to medium-high and stir frequently. Adding all the stock to the pot should take about 35-40 minutes.
    1. When you start adding the stock to the pot, put the fish in the oven. 
  12. When rice is just about tender and mixture is creamy, stir in the oyster mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are softened and the dish is creamy.
  13. Add the asparagus pieces and sliced snow peas. Stir until well mixed. The final dish should be pretty moist but not at all soupy.
  14. Remove from heat, then stir in the parmesan, two tablespoons unsalted butter and green onions. Finish the dish with finely chopped parsley. Serve alongside roasted yellowtail snapper or another comparable fish.

Inspiration for yellowtail snapper roasting method came from Andrew Zimmern.

Spring vegetable risotto recipe informed by the following:

Prep:50 min

Cook:50 min

Total:1 hour 40 min

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