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Risotto with summer carrots, thyme, and brown butter

Serves 6

Made with water instead of stock, this vegetarian risotto is studded with chopped carrots and finished with Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme.

7 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
5 medium carrots, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Black pepper, to taste
Extra Parmesan cheese (for serving)
1. In a large pot, bring 7 cups of water almost to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to low.

2. In a large, flame-proof casserole, heat the oil. When it is hot, cook the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until they soften.

3. Ladle 1/4 cup of the water into the onions. Stir well and continue cooking the onions, without letting them brown, for another 5 to 8 minutes or until the water evaporates.

4. Add the rice, turn the heat up to medium, and stir constantly for 3 minutes or until all the rice grains are coated with oil but not brown.

5. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the liquid evaporates from the pan.

6. Begin ladling water into the pot: For the first addition, ladle in 2 cups of the hot water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and let the mixture maintain a very gentle simmer. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

7. Continue stirring in water 1 cup at a time, letting each addition become absorbed by the rice before adding another.

8. After 3 cups of water have been added, stir in the chopped carrots.

9. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, let the butter melt over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the butter turns golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

10. When 5 cups of water have been added to the rice, begin tasting the grains. You're looking for creamy risotto with rice that has a little bite. For a soupier risotto, add the full amount of water.

11. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, thyme, and black pepper. Spoon into shallow bowls and drizzle with brown butter. Pass extra cheese and pepper at the table.

Jonathan Levitt

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