Leeks, golden saffron, a touch of lemon, and a few of the first basil leaves of spring make this a cheerful risotto. Mascarpone (mas-kar-POHN) is a buttery Italian triple-cream cheese found in many supermarkets and gourmet food shops. Regular cream cheese makes an acceptable, though not as rich, substitute.
8 cups water
6 cups chopped leek (about 6 large), divided
2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 thyme sprigs
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch-thick pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup (3 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
How to Make It
Combine water, 2 cups chopped leek, 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and next 5 ingredients (salt through celery) in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 35 minutes. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Reserve 5 1/2 cups broth; reserve remaining broth for another use.
Bring 5 1/2 cups broth and saffron to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups chopped leek; sauté 5 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Stir in 2 cups broth; cook 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes total). Add 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, mascarpone, lemon rind, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until mascarpone melts. Sprinkle with Parmesan.