The asparagus season is short and intense. Try this recipe if you've overdone it with sauteed and roasted versions of these sensational spears and fancy a change.This recipe was originally developed for Our Coal ValleyPhoto credit: Natalie Mendham
- 250 g risotto rice eg. arborio or carnaroli
- 8 tbsp Freshfield Grove extra virgin olive oil – or lemon agrumato olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
- 125 ml white wine
- 750 ml stock vegetable or chicken
- 300 – 400 g of asparagus
- 120 g hard cheese finely grated (eg. pecorino)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Pour 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over a medium heat.
- Dice the onion and cook gently until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the crushed garlic and rice, cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the white wine, stirring occasionally until it’s mostly absorbed.
- Add the stock gradually, allowing it to be largely absorbed before adding more. Leave the pan uncovered and stir occasionally.
- While the rice is cooking chop the asparagus into approximately 2cm lengths, keeping the tips aside. (If the spears are thick you may want to slice them in half to reduce the cooking time.)
- Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a separate pan with a lid and cook the chopped asparagus stalks over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes. Keep covered and stir occasionally.
- Add the asparagus tips to the stalks and cook covered for a further 2 minutes until just tender. Take off the heat and keep warm.
- When the rice is cooked (approximately 18-23 minutes) remove it from the heat and season with salt and pepper if required.
- Add the remaining 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, grated cheese, and cooked asparagus to the rice.
- Cover the pan with a lid and leave to sit for 2 minutes, then uncover and stir the melting cheese and asparagus through the risotto.
- Serve into warmed bowls and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Enjoy with a glass of white wine.
Risotto is a lot more forgiving than you may think! You can get away with adding most of the liquid all at once and stir pretty infrequently, or add it very slowly and stir more for a creamier texture. Keeping the stock at boiling temperature isn’t essential, although it does help keep the temperature more constant while the risotto’s cooking. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked use a little boiling water to top up. There are lots of variations on risotto. While asparagus is in season this is one of my favourites, and it’s lovely with the addition of double podded broad beans. For a “straight from the freezer” version it’s hard to beat the Jamie Oliver recipe for pea and prawn risotto. Dried mushrooms are another useful pantry staple for a minimal hassle mushroom risotto. The flavours here are beautiful finished with a lemon olive oil, but a little extra lemon zest and a spritz of juice work well if you don’t have any. Risotto is traditionally made with butter, but extra virgin olive oil works just as well, or use a bit of both. If you’re “saving” your premium olive oil then use an everyday one for the cooking parts, and the premium one when you add the cheese at the end – this is where you’ll notice the biggest flavour boost!