Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Sweet asparagus recipes

Cook melt-in-your-mouth spears into delectable dishes


Spring Risotto
(Serves 4 to 6)

This risotto makes a lovely luncheon or supper dish. The vegetables can be varied according to availability, but asparagus and tiny peas should always be included. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, then shaped into small patties and sautéd in a little butter or oil until golden brown.

Ingredients
6  asparagus spears, trimmed, cut 
into 1-in. (2.5-cm) lengths
1  cup (250 mL) tiny peas (fresh or frozen)
6  cups (1.5 L) homemade or high-quality chicken stock
1⁄4  cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2  tbsp. (30 mL) butter
1  onion, finely chopped
2  cloves garlic, minced
2  cups (500 mL) arborio or other short-grained rice
1⁄2  cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1  small yellow or green zucchini, trimmed and diced
1  cup (250 mL) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2  tbsp. (30 mL) fresh basil, chopped
2  tbsp. (30 mL) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook asparagus and peas (if fresh; frozen peas are added at the end) for 2 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain and refresh under cold running water; drain again and set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat, keeping the stock at a slow simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent. Stir in garlic and rice; cook for 2 minutes or until grains are well coated with butter and oil. Pour in wine; stir for 1 minute or until wine is absorbed.

Using a ladle, add simmering stock 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, stirring rice constantly to keep from sticking to saucepan; do not add more stock until last addition is absorbed. If stock is absorbing too quickly, reduce heat to maintain a slow, steady simmer. Repeat process, ladling in stock and stirring, for 15 minutes. As the end of the cooking time nears, reduce amount of added stock to 1/4 cup (60 mL) at a time. (You may not need all the stock.)

Stir in asparagus and zucchini (and peas, if frozen). Continue to cook, adding more stock as necessary, until rice is tender but with a firm heart and overall creaminess; it should not be too soupy or runny-looking. One minute before completion, stir in cheese, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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