Oh, Spring is here and I am so happy. Our Riverdog Farm box had green garlic and asparagus this week. My backyard garden is going wild with happy veggies. And trees all over town are still dripped with ripe Meyer Lemons. I love this time of year!
I am a sucker for risotto, which is for me the ultimate comfort food. Some people avoid making risotto because of all the stirring, but I encourage you to try it at home, if you don't already. This asparagus and lemon risotto from Alice Waters is a simple and delicious taste of spring.
I must warn you I am a fiend for asparagus these days and have an asparagus and nettle tart post coming soon. If you love asparagus as much as I do, check out these inspiring recipes at Dash and Bella and Crumpets and Cakes.
adapted from the Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
- 1 pound asparagus spears
- 2 stalks of green garlic (or Waters calls for 1 small yellow onion)
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 4-5 cups chicken broth
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Chervil or Parsley
Risotto is thoroughly infused with the flavor of whatever broth you use. Try a homemade broth if you can - it makes all the difference.
Wash asparagus and trim off rough ends. Slice spears at a diagonal. Set aside.
Zest one lemon. Squeeze juice. Set aside zest and juice.
Pour broth into sauce pan, heat, and maintain a low simmer.
Thinly slice green garlic. Or if you are using onion, finely chop.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 quart sauce pan. Add garlic/onion and cook until soft, but not browned. Then add Arborio and stir to coat the rice. Cook for a few minutes until the rice becomes slightly translucent.
Add wine and lemon zest. Stir and cook for a few more minutes until the wine is completely absorbed.
Use a ladle to add one cup of warmed broth to the risotto pan. Also add salt (how much salt depends on how salty your broth is already). Stir and bring mixture to a vigorous simmer. Don't let the rice absorb all the broth. Waters suggests letting the rice "thicken" with the broth, then to add another 1/2 cup. (My original risotto guru, Patricia Wells, suggests keeping at least a "thin veil" covering the cooking rice at all times.) Continue to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stir rice frequently.
About 10 minutes after you first added began to add broth, toss the asparagus into the cooking rice. Continue to stir and add broth as before until the rice is tender with a slight bite in the center.
When risotto is just done, add 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir vigorously to incorporate ingredients, then let it rest for a minute or two. At this point add more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Serve in a heaping mound and top with freshly chopped parsley or chervil. Enjoy!