Sweet Corn Risotto over Edamame Purée and Caprese Salad Revisited (GF)

 What many Americans don't realize about Italian cuisine, is that in Italy, there is no "Italian cuisine." Cooking varies immensely from region to region.While Neapolitan cooking is full of tomatoes and heavy on seafood, the Sienese pride themselves on their wild boar and pici. It wasn't altogether strange, therefore, that I came back from a month in Rome craving risotto. While I had certainly had my fill of the wheat-based pastas characteristic of Roman cooking, my diet was severely lacking the northern Italian rice-based dish.
Risotto has always been one of my favorite things to cook because of its simplicity and versatility. Once you know the basic proportions and technique, the possibilities are endless. Last night's risotto was inspired by an ear of sweet corn from the Sunday morning farmer's market and a bag of shelled edamame which had been sitting forlornly in the freezer for quite some time. I cooked and blended the edamame with some caramelized onions, a splash of chicken broth, a sprinkling of grated parmesan, and a dash of salt and pepper. It produced a delicious green purée - bright and fresh in color and flavor from the edamame, but deepened and intensified by the caramelized onions. I topped the purée with a simple corn risotto, a few more sautéed beans, and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. The perfect combination of textures, colors, and flavors, this may be my favorite risotto to date.  
Inspired by some ring molds I was recently given, I decided to serve a caprese-esque antipasto. I topped a round of fresh mozzarella di bufala with a swipe of homemade pesto and then used the ring mold to create a neat cylinder of chopped tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Classic, easy, and elegant, this was the perfect preface to the main dish. We of course had to finish off the meal with an Italian dessert, a delicious orange-infused panna cotta drizzled with blueberry sauce and topped with orange slices and chopped pistachios.
Sweet Corn Risotto 
Edamame and Caramelized Onion Purée
I served three, but the whole recipe would serve four

     Edamame Purée
          1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame beans
          1 onion, very finely sliced (this is easiest to do with a mandolin)
          2 tbsp brown sugar
          4 tbsp olive oil
          2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
          2-5 tbsp chicken broth
          1 clove of garlic
          Salt and pepper to taste 
          3 tbsp olive oil
          1 cup arborio rice
          4 cups chicken broth
          1 large ear of corn, raw and cut off the cob
          1/4 large onion, finely chopped
          1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
          1/4 cup vermouth or 1/2 cup white wine
          1/4 cup milk
          Salt and pepper to taste 
          1/2 cup edamame beans
          2 tbsp olive oil
          3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
          3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
          Pepper to taste
     Edamame Purée
Drizzle two of the tablespoons of olive oil into a small teflon frying pan and set over low heat. Distribute the slice onions evenly in the pan and sprinkle the brown sugar over them. Allow them to cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to cook them as slowly as possible so they become soft and caramel colored. Make sure they don't burn.
Pour the frozen edamame beans into a large pyrex measuring cup with a few tablespoons of water, cover with a microwave safe plate to hold in the moisture, and microwave for 7 minutes.
Dump the edamame with any remaining liquid into the food processor and process until they form a thick, dry-ish purée. Add the remaining two tablespoon of oil and the caramelized onions and blend until smooth. Add chicken broth by the tablespoon and purée until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of wet hummus. Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste and purée until smooth and well-blended. You will have to go a bit by feel and taste, so make sure to taste it periodically.
When you have reached your desired taste and consistency, transfer the purée into a pyrex measuring cup so that you can easily reheat it when you are ready to serve your risotto.
Sautée the onions in the olive oil in a large pot until translucent. Add the arborio rice and sautée briefly to toast the rice kernels a bit. Add the vermouth or wine and continue to stir until it has been completely absorbed/evaporated. The rice will be sticky.
Start adding the broth. Add one cup and wait until it has been almost fully absorbed by the rice before adding the next cup. Make sure to stir constantly so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the rice has absorbed three cups of the broth, add the corn, parmesan, and milk. Add the final cup of broth. When it is just about completely absorbed, test the risotto and make sure that it isn't too firm. If it is, just add a little more broth and cook it for longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a small pan pyrex measuring cup, microwave the edamame beans for 4 minutes with a couple tablespoons of water.
Sautée them with the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat until they start to brown slightly and remove the pan from the heat.
Reheat the purée in the microwave for about 2 minutes, adding a splash of chicken broth or water if it gets too dry. Scoop out about a quarter cup onto each plate and distribute it evenly in a wide circle.
I used an ice cream scoop to scoop the risotto onto each plate so that I could easily control where it ended up. I scoop about 3/4 of a cup onto each plate. I was serving three and ended up with probably about two servings left over.
Garnish each plate with the sautéed edamame beans, parsley, parmesan, and pepper.


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