Spring, beautiful spring.
The almond trees are in bloom, the vines are waking up and strawberries and asparagus are in season.
Asparagus Risotto time. I look forward to this every year.
I picked up a fat bunch of asparagus and a basket of deep, red strawberries at the market on Tuesday morning. The cupboards were pretty bare when I returned from the States, so I had to make do with what I could find.
Asparagus risotto usually calls for white wine but I didn't have any. I did, however, have Saumur, a sparkling white wine from the Loire Valley. A quick look in the Internet and voilà, a recipe for Champagne and Asparagus Risotto.
This is my adapted version. I didn't even have cheese for the recipe! Fortunately, the flavor was great without it.
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups Champagne
- 1 lb medium sized asparagus, trimmed
- black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs Pecorino-Romano cheese, freshly grated
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and cook until the onion is translucent.
- While onion is cooking, blanch asparagus for 2-3 minutes, plunge into ice water and cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Add rice, stirring to coat all the grains. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
- Add 1 cup stock. Cook, stirring, until stock is absorbed.
- Add 1 cup Champagne or Saumur. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- When almost absorbed, add the rest of the Champagne.
- After the Champagne is absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the stock. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is almost absorbed.
- Add the rest of the stock in small amounts until rice is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes from when you put in the first cup of stock. I always find that the liquid to rice ratio is relative to the quality of the rice. You may need more than 4 cups liquid, you may need less.
- Just before the last of the stock is added, add the asparagus to the rice.
- Stir in freshly ground pepper, to taste.
- Add the butter and cheese.
- Stir well, taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
For dessert: strawberries and the rest of the Saumur.