Sunday, May 9, 2010

Asparagus Risotto

I'm back to being a good Food Network magazine subscriber. It's taken me a while to read through all the latest issues, but now that I have, I'm inspired once again. So in honor of this inspiration, let's cook!

It's finally spring and this year, I have a newfound love of asparagus. I've had a lot of grilled asparagus in the past few weeks, but I've been looking for a new way to enjoy it. I couldn't believe it when I opened April's Food Network magazine and stumbled upon a recipe for Asparagus Risotto.

Let me state the obvious: I'm not Italian. But I love risotto all the same (especially my Butternut Squash Risotto, which I have yet to make for this blog but it's sooooo good!). So I just had to make this. Upon first glance, this recipe seemed to be complicated (at least for me), but after I read through it a few times and actually made the dish, I realized that it's relatively easy.

Risotto with Asparagus
  • 2 bunches thick asparagus (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or lemon thyme (I used two pinches of dried thyme, since I didn't have any fresh thyme)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, cut into strips
  • 8 ounces Robiola or Taleggio cheese, thinly sliced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1) Peel the bottom third of the asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler. Snap each stalk where it breaks naturally.

2) Thinly slice 6 asparagus bottoms.

3) Place the rest of the bottoms in a saucepan with 8 cups water and the thyme to make asparagus broth. Bring to a simmer.

4) Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes.

5) Add the rice and cook, stirring until glossy, about 1 minute.
6) Add 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.
7) Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed.
8) Stir in 1/2 cup of the asparagus broth until absorbed. Continue to add broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, about 10 minutes. (You should have about half the broth left.)

9) Stir in the sliced asparagus bottoms and the lemon zest. Add the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice is just tender, 5 to 8 more minutes.

10) Meanwhile, place the asparagus tips in a large skillet, cover with water and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-high heat until just tender, about 5 minutes.
11) Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the Parmesan and lemon juice to the risotto.

12) Stir in the lettuce, remove from the heat and season with salt.

13) Divide among bowls, top with the Robiola or Taleggio and season with pepper.

14) Drizzle the asparagus tips with olive oil and spoon over the risotto.

OK, so now that you've seen the entire recipe, let me tell you that I was unable to follow all of these directions. This should not be a surprise, as we all know that I have a slight problem with recipe directions. If you have any doubts about this, you can check out my first few blog posts where I happen to falter in either Step 1 or 2 of the recipe. History kind of, sort of repeated itself again:

1) I forgot to peel all of the asparagus stalks when making the asparagus broth. Well, I didn't really forget. I just didn't read the directions correctly.

2) I got so excited by time this dish was almost finished that I forgot to season it with pepper and drizzle the asparagus tips with extra virgin olive oil.

BUT...I bring up this point only to show that it doesn't matter if you try to screw up your dish. It will still turn out fine. Like mine did!

The asparagus risotto was creamy and delicious. The asparagus flavor from the broth could be detected underneath the tang from the melted Parmesan and lemon juice. The Bibb lettuce has a buttery flavor and it wilted nicely into the risotto.

Of course I used more Parmesan cheese than the recipe called for. I added 1/2 cup Parmesan instead of the 1/4 cup the actual recipe calls for. You know I can't resist doing this. I also wasn't able to find Robiola or Taleggio cheese in my neighborhood grocery store, so I used Fontina instead. It worked like a charm! I also didn't have any white wine on hand (I'm a red wine drinker) so I created a mixture of 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp lemon juice. I used this instead of the white wine. Good things come to those who are creative! Bon appetit!

I also apologize slightly for going wild with the camera, but who ever gets tired of looking at food anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I have to try this. It looks amazing. Thanks for the inspiration Ellie!