I’m very excited it’s Asparagus season again. Though here in France, like the rest of Northwestern Europe, they favour the grown in the dark white asparagus over the open air green tips more commonly found elsewhere. And it’s the green I definitely prefer. Asparagus happens to be one of my favourite veggies, and one I’d really like to grow myself once I decide on a permanent spot in the veg patch for it. It’s a dauntingly long wait of a couple of years from seed sowing to cropping…which undoubtedly will test my un-patient self, but once cropping the plants can last up to a lengthy twenty years!
This is my first spring risotto of the year, and possibly my favourite risotto recipe ever. So light and delicately flavoured, rather than the heavier meatier and rootier winter risottos of our last few months. Ideally this should be made with fresh peas, but as my pea plants are still very much in their infancy and no way near ready for picking, I used good old shop bought frozen ones, which I actually don’t have a problem with at all. Here’s one of my baby pea plants….hurry up!:
I don’t know why exactly but risottos tend to be the domain of the grown up folk in the Foti household, usually something I put together once the wee ones are snuggled up in bed. Hence the recipe for two…just double up for a family. Little Miss F is never too keen on them but will eat under duress, and Master F would willingly eat most things, especially anything with rice and his beloved peas in!
Enough for 2:
20g of butter
a tablespoon of olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
150g of arborio or other risotto rice
a glass of white wine
600ml of hot weak chicken or vegetable stock
a bunch of fresh green asparagus
110g of fresh or frozen peas
the zest of an unwaxed lemon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of the juice
a heaped tablespoon of half fat creme fraiche
40g of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
salt and pepper
Prepare the asparagus by removing and discarding the woody white ends. Cut the tips to about an inch in length and the remaining stalks to a 1 to 2cm length. Set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of butter and oil. Pour in the white wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to stir from time to time.
Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in your third ladleful of stock together with the asparagus. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last lot is absorbed.
When the rice is nearly cooked stir in the peas, lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Once the peas, rice and asparagus are all cooked remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit, plus further lemon juice if you like.