Spring Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus

I’m going to be honest, I just got 1-upped by my boyfriend’s dad in risotto-making last weekend. He makes this deliciously, heavy, earthy risotto with mushrooms that is very reminiscent of late fall but to commemorate spring, this light, lemony risotto is much more fitting.

Spring Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus
1.5 cups arborio rice
32 oz. organic/homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock, though I can’t guarantee the same flavor)
1/2 c. asparagus sliced into discs (mine weren’t that disc-y but a little longer because I like having the crunch of asparagus), leave the tips whole
1/4 c. frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
zest and juice of half a lemon
3/4 c. dry vermouth or dry white wine
1/2 – 3/4 c. freshly grated parmesan
(1 tablespoon butter)

In a small pot, bring your stock to a simmer– you’ll want to have it hot so it doesn’t bring down the temperature of the risotto as you’re cooking it. In a separate, large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and cook your onions for about 15 minutes, very gently until translucent– make sure they don’t brown. Add your arborio rice, turn up the temperature to medium-high and cook it, stirring often. Don’t let the rice or onion burn.

Quickly pour in your alcohol of choice– I love vermouth because it’s white wine enhanced with some herby flavors and keeps much, much longer than white wine. I’ve heard people say to stay away from chardonnay because it’s very sweet but give it a try! Cook the wine until the alcohol scent has evaporated and most of the wine has either evaporated or been soaked up.

Add stock one ladle at a time (1/2 c. ). Only add more stock until the rice has absorbed the previous scoop. Reduce the heat to low so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly (otherwise you’re left with uncooked insides)– this is a slow process.  This should take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes. The rice should have puffed up and cooked al-dente.

Add 1 to 1.5 cups of stock to the rice and add your asparagus and peas and stir so that the vegetables are steamed through and the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding more stock, if needed. Turn off the heat and stir in your butter, parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Be careful with the lemon as adding too much could compromise the flavor of the rest of the dish. I like lemon as an accent that should be a fresh background flavor to the rest of the risotto but add as much as you like– just taste it to be sure. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a bit of olive oil, zest, or parmesan if desired.

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