Spring Asparagus Risotto

From "A Taste of Heaven and Earth" by Bettina Vitell published by Harper Collins.

Nominee for the Julia Child Cookbook Award

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Asparagus Risotto

This is a delicate spring and summer dish. The rice is sauteed with onions and yellow summer squash, then simmered with asparagus in a light broth of lemon and white wine. For this risotto, the subtle flowery flavor of Basmati rice is ideal; long grain brown rice is also good.

It serves 4 people.

For the broth:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 6-8 parsley stems
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 8 mushroom stems
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 2 cups Basmati, or long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow squash, cut in half, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • paprika
  • In a small soup pot, combine all the broth ingredients. Cover tightly with a lid, and simmer for 1/2 hour before beginning the rice. Keep the broth simmering on the stove while cooking the rice. Cut the tips from the asparagus, and set aside. Trim the ends and slice the stems on the diagonal in thin 1/4 inch slices. Rinse the rice and set aside to drain.

    Heat the olive oil in a medium pot. Saute the onions and yellow squash over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. When the onions begin to look translucent, stir in the rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

    Strain the vegetables from the broth, and mix 1 1/2 cups of broth into the rice, or enough to just cover the rice. Adjust the heat to full simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid. Keep your eye on the rice, and when it has absorbed most of the liquid, add more broth to just cover. Continue in this way until all the broth is gone, and the rice is al dente. This should take about 30 minutes.

    Just before adding the last portion of broth to the rice, blanch the asparagus tips briefly in the simmering broth for a couple of minutes until bright green. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Add the last bit broth to the rice, and stir in the asparagus stems. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top with the asparagus tips and grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

    copyright: Bettina Vitell, 1993.

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