Four days ago, the asparagus began to poke from the ground, appearing like alien spears during the night, some fat and sturdy, others as thin as straw. The first morning, there was enough for a raw asparagus salad for a post-breakfast snack, that night, plenty for just baaarely roasting, though we ate in the dark, so no pictures and thus I'll need to make it again (lucky me) to share the technique.
And then there was this risotto, which uses the whole spear to extract flavor, the woody ends get cooked and squeezed; the stalks get cooked and puréed into an asparagus stock; the tips are flash-cooked and then stirred in for texture contrast and color drama.
Dreamy stuff, this risotto.
BLENDER SAFETY Two important tips for using a kitchen blender. First, make sure the blender is turned off before plugging it in. Second, when putting hot liquid into a blender, never fill it more than half full. This is because the hot liquid will create pressure and the top will want to blow off. As many years as I've known this and been careful, not long ago I had a blender explode and experienced a minor burn and a huge mess. So now I've started to hold the top of the blender on tightly with a clean folded towel. It makes it easier to hold onto the top of the blender, plus, if there is too much pressure to contain, your hand is protected.
Time to table: 1 hour
3 cups salted water
1 pound fresh asparagus, washed well, especially the tips
2 tablespoons butter (reduced from 5 tablespoons, 2 was plen-ty)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup risotto rice, either arborio or carnaroli (see this Beet Green Risotto for an introduction to carnaroli)
2/3 cup vermouth (I used vodka, white wine would work too)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh herbs - I used dill, the recipe called for thyme
ASPARAGUS STOCK Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Break off the woody ends of the asparagus (this means to bend the spear near its base, moving up toward the tip, the spear will find its natural breaking point). When the water boils, cook these for 10 minutes, squeezing them with the back of a spoon to extract the asparagus juice, then remove with a slotted spoon and discard. Cut off the tips and cook in the same water just until tender, about 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Chop the remaining stalks and cook in the same water for 3 minutes. Transfer about half the liquid and chopped asparagus pieces to a blender and blend til smooth. You should have three cups asparagus stock, if not add water to make three cups.
RISOTTO While preparing the asparagus stock, melt the butter in a large deep skillet on MEDIUM until shimmery. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the rice and stir to coat with fat. Add the vermouth, reduce the heat to LOW and let slowly simmer until liquid is absorbed. Stir in salt. Return heat to MEDIUM and stir in about 1/3 cup of the asparagus stock. It should simmer briskly, stir occasionally to help it be absorbed into the rice. A third cup at a time, add more stock and let it become absorbed. When about 1/2 cup of stock remains, stir in the asparagus tips, then the last of the stock.
TO SERVE Transfer to serving plates, sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve and savor.
The inspiring recipe called for stirring in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan at the end but I found the risotto plenty rich enough without. So it pays to taste before adding it!
Another time, I think I'd keep a splash of the asparagus stock in reserve, then pool it in the plates and put the risotto on top.
~ Roasted Asparagus with Feta ~
~ Asparagus with Anchovies & Garlic ~
~ Asparagus with Farro & Green Onion Sauce ~
~ Cauliflower Risotto ~
from Kitchen Parade
~ more asparagus recipes ~
~ more rice recipes ~
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