Asparagus Risotto

by Julie Cohn

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Asparagus Risotto

Have you ever tried risotto?  It is heaven on a fork.  The name means “little rice,” but risotto is anything but little.  Plumped by meat or vegetable stock and white wine, its big creamy texture melts on the tongue.

The best risotto is made with Carnaroli rice, but this can be expensive and difficult to find in the United States, so Arborio rice is more commonly used.  Risotto is not difficult to make, but does require the freshest ingredients,  a careful eye, and lots of patience.  Asparagus is one of a handful of vegetables my husband will eat, so I have experimented with various asparagus risotto recipes.  Some were not as creamy as I would have liked.  Others lacked flavor.  I developed my own recipe, based on trial and error, and found this to be the best asparagus risotto recipe for our family.  I hope you enjoy!

  • 1 lb. Fresh asparagus, cleaned (Cut off the tough ends and throw away)
  • 6 c. fresh or canned chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
  • 1/2 c. light sweet white wine, such as Moscato
  • 2 Tbsp. Virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 Tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 4-5 pieces thin sliced Parmesan

Chop the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. (This photo is before I cut the asparagus)

Heat the chicken stock to boiling.  Lower the heat so the stock has a light rolling boil.  Add the cut asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Remove the asparagus from the stock with a slotted spoon. Retain the stock for later use in the risotto, keeping warm over medium heat, covered.  Bathe the asparagus in cold ice water for a minute or two, drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, in another large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium low heat.  Add the onion and shallot and cook 2-3 minutes, until translucent.  Add the vinegar and blend together.  Add the rice and cook in the pan for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

Add the white wine and stir until the wine is almost absorbed.  Most risotto recipes call for dry white wine, but a sweeter wine makes a nice contrast to the asparagus; you can also use dry wine if you prefer.  Here is where you need to watch carefully and be patient. The rice will absorb the wine slowly, but if you are not careful, it will dry out and stick to the bottom of the pan.  It is important to keep medium heat on it, so the rice will absorb the liquids, but do not let it stick.  Add 1/2 c. of the stock, stir, and continue to occasionally stir while the rice absorbs the stock.  Carefully add the remaining stock in 1/2 c. increments, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.  By about 3 cups you will really start to see the creamy texture in the rice.  This is good!  When all the stock is absorbed, remove the rice from the heat, and add the grated Parmesan, mixing thoroughly.  Fold in the asparagus, being careful not to break the asparagus pieces. Isn’t it pretty with the green and white?  Serve immediately, sprinkling the thinly sliced Parmesan over the top for garnish.

Note:  Risotto is traditionally made as a side dish, but you can easily make it into a meal with a side salad.  Another great risotto for the holidays is my apple-butternut squash risotto.

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