Mar 2, 2010

asparagus and lemon risotto

Do you know that spring is finally here? It might not feel like it with all the rain we've been having here in California, but when the asparagus is ready it feels like spring.  (My apologies to those with snow still on the ground - yours is coming. And when it does, come find this recipe; it's worth it!)

As I continue to push myself to eat locally and seasonally I am more and more surprised at how I feel the ebb and flow of the food I eat.  I remember back in August when I couldn't eat one more fresh tomato, and now I think how was that possible? Oh how I long for fresh fruity tomatoes straight from the garden.  But isn't this mother nature's sweet way.  So now as we come out of winter I've been waiting for asparagus to arrive and I'm sure I let out a little yelp of joy when the thin green stalks finally appeared at the market last week.

This tasty hearty risotto highlighting the asparagus and lemon's that are fresh right now, seemed like the perfect way to kick off my first "spring" meal.  I don't think I realized how much I missed this sweet vegetable; I had it on pizza last night, and have more in-waiting for later this week.  Oh asparagus, how I adore thee. 

recipe for asparagus and lemon risotto
adapted from the cookbook of the month...

1 lb thin-speared asparagus
1 lemon
3 T butter
1 small onion finely diced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice (I used Arborio, and find this is easy to find in most markets)
5 cups chicken broth (if your making a vegetarian version use vegetable broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Thoroughly wash the asparagus and cut off the tough end, chop into half-inch pieces and set aside.  Zest the lemon into a bowl and set aside.  Juice the lemon and save juice in a separate bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Once the butter is melted add the diced onion.  Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Be careful to not let it brown.  While the onion and rice are cooking bring the broth to a boil then turn it off.

Stir the lemon zest into the sauteed rice and pour in the wine.  Cook the rice mix until all the wine is absorbed, be sure to stir fairly often.  Add 1 cup of the warm chicken broth and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally.  When the rice starts to get thick, pur in another 1/2 cup of the broth and add some salt (be careful not to add to much, go lighter at this point, you can always add more later).  Keep adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, every time the rice thickens and the broth is cooked down.  Do not let it dry out.  After half the broth is added stir in the cut asparagus.  Cook until the rice is tender but still has a firm core, 20-30 minutes.

When the rice is almost done stir in half of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated cheese.  Stir vigorously to develop a creamy starch.  Taste for salt and lemon juice and add more as needed.  Turn off the head and let the risotto sit uncovered for 2 minutes, serve hot.

stats: this will serve 4 nicely for a meal, and took about an hour start to finish

happy beginning of spring,

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