All of a sudden the price of a bunch of asparagus plummets from its mind-boggling heights of $7/pound and I am *there* in a flash, hoarding it for dishes like this glorious beast. Oh and this too. The emergence of fresh seasonal vegetables also excites me for more off the cuff cooking. Random salads – and ditching the recipes in favour of just enjoying how flavours work together.
That said, there’s also space in my heart (and belly) for this asparagus risotto. Might I suggest you make some room too? Dan and I made this together on a sunny, chilly spring afternoon, methodically adding warmed chicken stock to the crisp rice, watching it bubble and soak up the moisture until we added more.
I can’t tell you how much I love the process of risotto: the smell of white wine de-glazing and that final glorious flourish of butter and a huge double-handful of Parmesan cheese just about sends me over the edge.
Some of the asparagus here is boiled and pureed, then added towards the end of the cooking process, giving the whole dish a spring-like green tint and really infusing the asparagus flavour. Texture isn’t ignored though and the remaining pieces and tips of asparagus are added whole for a wonderful crunch against the risotto’s creaminess. Utter perfection with a chilled glass of white wine.
adapted from The New York Times
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
- 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- bulb of one spring onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half the asparagus stalks and cook until quite soft, at least 5 minutes. Transfer cooked asparagus to a food processor and add just a touch of water – enough only to allow the machine to puree until smooth; set aside.
- Put stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, stirring occasionally until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add a large pinch of salt. Add warmed stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time the stock has just about evaporated, add more.
- After about 15 minutes, add the remaining asparagus pieces and tips, continuing to add stock when necessary. In 5 minutes, begin tasting rice. You want it to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 1/4 cup asparagus puree. Remove skillet from heat, add remaining butter and stir briskly. Add Parmesan and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.