A simple creamy risotto with asparagus is delicious with the addition of lemon juice and fresh grated lemon rind. The lemon freshens up the whole dish and gives a bright new flavor to your usual risotto. Risotto is northern Italian in origin but nonetheless a dish I grew up eating. My mother made Milanese style risotto flavored with saffron and she always added mushrooms. Risotto can be adapted with all kinds of different ingredients including peas, squash, radicchio, spinach, sausage and seafood, just to name a few. Basically, the possibilities are endless!
Risotto is not difficult to make but does require your undivided attention for close to half an hour. You need to stay close to the stove to continue stirring and adding broth to your rice. Here are a few tips for cooking risotto:
- The key to cooking risotto is to make sure your broth is hot. Keep your pot of broth simmering on the stove top next to your risotto pot.
- The broth must be added a bit at a time and more is added when the broth has been absorbed by the rice. A good trick I learned is to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot and if you leave a space as you drag the spoon, you know it’s time to add more broth.
- After about 20 minutes of cooking, taste your rice to see if it’s almost ready. It should be tender but with some bite to it. If you have run out of broth and your rice is not completely cooked, just add some water but make sure to heat it first.
Lemony Asparagus Risotto
Makes 4 servings
- 7 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/3 cup white wine
- grated lemon rind of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
The best way to trim your asparagus can not be better described than on this site :http://www.thekitchn.com/quick-tip-how-to-trim-asparagu-47465. This is the technique I always use. After trimming, rinse the asparagus well. Chop asparagus in 1 inch pieces, separating the stems from the tips and set aside.
Place broth in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. In a large dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion until translucent. Add rice and stir until it is coated with the oil and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Then, begin adding hot broth to your rice mixture with a ladle, one scoop at a time, and stir. When the broth has been absorbed, continue adding broth, one ladle full at a time. After about ten minutes of cooking, add the chopped asparagus stems. Continue adding broth as before. After five more minutes, add asparagus tips to the rice mixture. Continue cooking until the rice is tender but still has some bite to it. Total cooking time may vary from 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon rind, lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with extra parmesan at the table.