Weekend Herb Blogging - one of the longest running food blog 'events' on the web. This week it is being hosted by Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters. Weekend Herb Blogging was created by Kalyn and is now organized by Haalo, WHB is now in its 4th successful year of showcasing every week delicious (and often unusal) foods prepared using herbs, fruits and vegetables by bloggers around the world.
With the arrival of spring I have started craving asparagus. As a child it was on the rather longish list of vegetables I'd rather not see appear in my plate (all but peas and corn were on the list, in case you're wondering). Happily, as my palate has matured, I've come to appreciate its many wonders.
A few weeks ago I spied this recipe in Cooking Light magazine and made plans to make it for dinner. Tonight was to be the night. Then I read the recipe in more detail . . . WHIPPING CREAM? I was directed to add 1/4 of a cup of whipping cream at the end?
Italians the world over cringed.
Yes, risotto should be creamy . . . this comes from slowly cooking the rice so that it releases natural starches. It sure the heck shouldn't come from a container of whipping cream.
So back to GOOGLE I went. I soon found this recipe that Mark Bittman posted on the New York Times site back in May 2007. It is adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali . . . now he should know a thing or two about risotto. I liked that this recipe had two shots of asparagus in it - tips and chunks are added near then end but a beautiful, green puree of asparagus is added to finish it. Better yet? No whipping cream is needed.
The CL recipe was put on the shelf and this one took its place.
This was a brilliant risotto - delicious with the one of the season's first vegetables. Paul agreed - he had a second plate of the stuff. The asparagus flavour was subtle. The colour - mostly from the pureed asparagus - was beautiful.
Asparagus Risotto (Adapted from Mario Batali)
Time: 45 minutes
1 pound asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half the asparagus stalks and cook until quite soft, at least 5 minutes. Rinse quickly under cold water. Put cooked asparagus in a blender or food processor and add just enough water to allow machine to puree until smooth; set aside.
Put stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, stirring occasionally until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add a large pinch of salt. Add warmed stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.
After about 15 minutes, add remaining asparagus pieces and tips, continuing to add stock when necessary. In 5 minutes, begin tasting rice. You want it to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 1/2 cup asparagus puree. Remove skillet from heat, add remaining butter and stir briskly. Add Parmesan and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning. Risotto should be slightly soupy. Serve immediately.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings.