It’s Spring, and we are wanting to eat lovely seasonal vegetables and light, healthy meals…but, it’s quite cold here in the UK. So how about this warming, seasonal asparagus risotto to bridge the gap?
Asparagus is a great ingredient if you are looking to nourish your skin. It is full of nutrients to help stop the breakdown of collagen. prevent and treat hyperpigmentation , protect cells from toxins. hydrate skin and suppress wrinkle formation.
The perfect excuse to get making this vibrant risotto!
Cut off and discard the woody bases of the Asparagus. Cut pretty tips off (about 1 1/2 inches) and set them aside. Cut the “middles” into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 1/2 cups of the “middles” and set aside. Add any remaining “middles” to the tips and keep these set aside. So you’ll have two piles of asparagus, 1 1/2 cups of the “middles” and one with the tips and leftover middles.
Blanch the 1 1/2 cups of asparagus “middles” until tender and vibrant, about 5 minutes depending on size. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend the blanched asparagus with the 1 cup cooking liquid, 2 tablespoons oil and the basil leaves until silky smooth, either in a blender. Set this aside to add to the risotto at the end.
Thinly slice leeks into half-moons, and rinsing away any dirt, strain. (Rinsing will also help soften them.) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Add arborio rice and stir to coat, one minute. Deglaze with white wine (if using) and cook the wine off. Add 1 cup of stock, scraping up any browned bits, bring to a gentle simmer, over med-low heat stirring occasionally, letting the rice absorb the all the stock.
Continue adding the hot stock 1 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly, each time, stirring often. ***At the same time that you add the last cup of stock, add the pile of asparagus with the tips, letting them cook in the risotto 3 minutes or so. At this point, rice should be creamy yet slightly al dente.
Combine: Stir in blended asparagus-basil “sauce”, add the salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and taste. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste. (Pecorino or parmesan will add more depth and flavor here.) Heat gently over low heat letting it thicken a bit if you like, but taking care not to cook too long here, or you’ll lose the vibrant color.
Divide among bowls, garnish with pecorino or parmesan cheese, lemon zest and chili flakes or a drizzle of the olive oil.
Top with a piece of roasted fish, sauteed shrimp, grilled chicken or sauteed mushrooms if you like.