Risotto is hardly effortless fare, what with all that stirring over a hot stove. But instant brown rice and creamy Neufchatel cheese can make a nutty, rich, stand-in version that's sure to be a family favorite. Substitute any vegetables you wish for the asparagus and bell pepper. Make it a Meal: Paired with a salad, this is a perfect vegetarian main course, or serve as a side dish with grilled chicken or steak.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin Olive oil1 medium Onion, diced1/4 teaspoon Salt2 cups instant brown Rice4 cloves Garlic, chopped2 1/2 cups vegetable or reduced-sodium chicken Broth1 pound Asparagus, trimmed and cut into quarter-inch pieces1 red bell Pepper, finely diced1 cup frozen Peas, thawed4 ounces reduced-fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel)1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing, if desired1/4 cup minced Chives or scallion greens
1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until soft and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rice and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.2. Remove cover and spread asparagus and bell pepper on top of the simmering rice—do not stir into the rice mixture. Replace cover and continue simmering, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the liquid is almost absorbed and the asparagus is bright green but still crisp, about 5 minutes.3. Add peas and cream cheese; stir until the mixture is creamy and the cheese is incorporated. Return to a simmer and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir in one-half cup Asiago (or Parmesan). Serve topped with chives (or scallions) and additional grated cheese.
Reduce the sodium in this dish by omitting the added salt.
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