Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto
Spring is here and although I'm waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for it to feel like spring, there is something in the air that feels like it's right around the corner. I recently got together with friends and had the call for "more recipes" on the blog. Well, Cat, this one's for you.
As I've explained before, risotto has a special place in my heart...and my kitchen. It's so versatile and easy, I love making it. I think a lot of people are intimidated by making risotto, but they really shouldn't be. It's easy, but takes some time and constant watching and stirring. (If you're trying to get your wrists in shape for bathing suit season, this is the exercise for you.)
This recipe gathers together all the fresh flavors of spring. Although I do grow peas, I don't grow asparagus. It's a tough thing to grow when you do mostly container gardening and it takes about 3 years to really provide a decent yield. So, I rely on my local markets. Locally, spring is when asparagus reaches its peak, so take advantage of local harvests when you can.
This recipe is vegetarian, but if you eliminate the cheese, it's also a tasty vegan dish.
7-8 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch diagonals pieces
1 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- In a saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. (Don't boil, just heat.)
- In a large cast-iron or heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- Add rice and stir about 2-3 minutes.
- Add wine and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
- Add 1/2 cup of stock and cook until absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time. When one addition is almost fully absorbed, add another 1/2 cup. Stir frequently. Continue for about 20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked, but still al dente.
- When adding the last or near last batch of stock (about 3-4 minutes to go), add asparagus and stir.
- Add peas about a minute before the rice is done.
- Turn off the heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Tip: If you run out of vegetable stock, you can use water as a substitute.