I adore fresh asparagus. This asparagus risotto is light creamy and big on asparagus flavor. It's easy to make; just ask Deborah, Lance, Ian, Barbra, Kristin and John the students that helped test my recipe! It is unique in that I use the asparagus broth from blanching the asparagus. This is a perfect example of the simplicity of Italian cooking with great flavors.
½ pound asparagus
4 cups (1 quart) water
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio superfine rice
2 tablespoons white wine
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
3 tablespoons mascarpone
1. Add the water and teaspoon of salt to a medium pan cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile cut the tips from the asparagus and set aside. Peel the stems of the asparagus if they are tough. Cut the stems in half crosswise and add to the boiling water. Cook for about 6 minutes or until soft with the lid partially covering the pan to help reduce evaporation. Fill a bowl (large enough to hold the asparagus) with cold water and a few ice cubes. Remove the asparagus from the pan (reserving the water) with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water to stop the cooking. When the asparagus stems are cool enough to handle cut into 1/2” pieces and puree in a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of the asparagus cooking water.
2. Return the reserved water to a boil and add the tips of the asparagus to the asparagus water and cook for 3 minutes. Cool the tips in the ice water reserving the cooking water again. Cover the pan to keep the water hot. Warm the risotto serving dishes.
3. In a heavy bottomed pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent with a 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Add the rice and cook until lightly toasted. Pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Add enough of the asparagus cooking water to just cover the rice.
4. Bring to just a gentle simmer and stir regularly. When the liquid goes below the rice add more of the cooking liquid. It will take about 10-15 minutes to cook the rice to al dente.
5. When the rice is al dente add in the pureed asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mascarpone. Stir to mix well. In a small saute pan on medium heat melt 2 teaspoons of butter and warm the asparagus tips. Taste to correct seasonings then serve on warm bowls. Remember the longer the risotto sits the thicker and less silky it becomes. You may want to add a little more hot water to the risotto to make sure it is the perfect consistence when it arrives at the table. Use asparagus tips for garnish. Serve warm.
Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie