Spring Lemon & Asparagus Risotto

This is another fabulous spring recipe with some amazing, fresh and in season produce. I love asparagus, and cannot wait every year for it to finally show up at the markets. I love hearing from the lady at my usual stall about how she picks them the night before with her husband, and about her favourite ways of preparing them. 

I used Meyer lemons in this recipe, not only because they are still in season, but also because they are sweeter than regular lemons, adding this beautiful and distinct flavour without that typical strong sourness of other lemons.

I like making risotto for many reasons, but the most important one is simple, any excuse to add loads of parmesan to a meal, is a good excuse :).  I got a huge wedge from my Italian friend, Roberta, so I went crazy, and added more than in the recipe below. If you're like me, add as much as you want, because the more parmesan, the better risotto.

This is a very simple recipe, if you follow the steps, you will get an amazing, restaurant-level dish in under 20 minutes, for a fraction of the cost! And you will be very proud of yourself, what in my case, is always needed!

Ingredients (2 portions):
  • 1,5 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 350g / 12oz asparagus
  • 1 small onion or 2 scallions (white parts)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • approximately 3 cups vegetable stock
  • zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Start with cutting the asparagus into smaller pieces, and blanching it for about 2 minutes, until bright green. Then remove from boiling water into a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside. Keep the asparagus broth.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add rice, and stir until grains are translucent at their edges but still opaque in the center, this shouldn't take long, about 1 minute or so. 

Lower the heat down to medium-low, add wine, and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated. 
Then you can start adding the stock. I use my asparagus broth combined with one cube of vegetable bullion.  Add the stock ladle by ladle, stirring until rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid before adding the next.

After about 15-17 minutes, when the rice will be almost cooked (you can taste the grains to decide), stir in the asparagus and the lemon zest. Then add one last ladle of broth, the cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter, and mix it together to a creamy and tender consistency.

Serve immediately.



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