Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto

Asparagus-and-Parmesan-Risotto“Anyone can make risotto, it’s impossible to screw up,” friend and former client, Carey, said.  We worked together when she was with Waterford Wedgwood.  And we worked together before that when she was with Kahlua.  My little foodie boutique firm did PR for those brands plus a bunch of others.  Carey told me she makes risotto all the time, and after that proclamation, I make it often, too.

Risotto has a bad rap for being needy or difficult.  It doesn’t really take much time, just a few prep stages.  Maybe the reputation comes from having to work with two cooking pots at the same time (if you can walk and chew gum simultaneously, no problem).   And the “constantly stirring” issue is… sure, you have to stir but it’s really FUN to watch this morph right under your nose.  Taste often, it is part of the delicious job.

Serve right when done, that’s the creamiest.  In place of asparagus, throw in different things to suit your budget or taste – shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallops, fresh basil, goat cheese, ham, bacon.  Recently, I hosted a potluck for a handful of women business owners; one was a vegetarian so I made this with vegetable stock.  You really can awe a group with just a bag of Arborio rice and some fresh vegetables.  And like at many restaurants, it is a great main course – give it a try.

Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto

  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) low salt chicken broth, homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add asparagus and simmer over moderate heat until just cooked, about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, depending upon stalk thickness.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a plate.  Cover the stock and keep it at barely a simmer.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Add rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until it is coated with oil, about 1 minute.  Add the wine, stir and simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 scant cup of hot stock to the rice, cook and stir often, until it is absorbed.  Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring gently until absorbed.  The risotto is done when the rice is creamy and tender but still slightly firm, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the asparagus and Parmesan cheese.  Season with pepper to taste, serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

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