Roasted Asparagus Risotto
Oh non, je suis désolé, mes chéris! This post was meant to go up automatically while I was traveling this past week to Puerto Rico. But apparently there was some sort of “technical difficulty” and here it is, several days late and perhaps nearing the end of that most wonderful time of spring: asparagus season! I hope that you are still able to get plenty of these delectable green shoots where you are. And of course there will be some photos shortly of my brief visit to sunny San Juan that will remind us all that summer is just around the corner.
Ah, asparagus season! It’s here in full force and I snapped up several bunches of these delicious green spears at last week’s Headhouse Market where the tables were already beginning to fill out with all manner of greens, herbs, asparagus, rhubarb, fennel, and even some apples that had been stored through the winter in a cool barn cellar. And of course, my favorite bakery and cheese vendors were back once more, and I made sure to show my appreciation by buying much more than I should have since I won’t be home much this week (I’m traveling south to Puerto Rico for a professional development opportunity).
But back to the asparagus, my favorite of all spring time ephemeral foods. I grew up with plenty of asparagus at the ready in both my backyard and the roadside bed across from my grandmother’s house. I never was one of those kids that pinched my nose and said “pee-yew!” when mom brought over the asparagus platter to the dinner table. I loved it from the start and I loved picking it – going out each morning to see if there were new shoots the right size for the taking. Asparagus can grow very quickly this time of year, literally overnight.
I never realized what a treat I had on my hands back then. Fresh picked asparagus is leaps and bounds better than anything you’ll ever get in the store. Even the stuff that’s at the farmers market, if it’s been picked a few days in advance, is already starting to toughen up and loose its sugars. I usually ask the farmer when it was picked before buying and then I try to make sure I use up the asparagus within a day or two to get maximum flavor. As such, I made it a point to put together this Roasted Asparagus Risotto before leaving town.
Risotto, if you recall, is relatively new to the Straight from the Farm kitchen, but I’ve been making plenty of it since I first started last summer. The creamy robust rice is the perfect way to transport asparagus to a whole new level. I found that roasting the pieces first really brought out a caramelized note in the final dish. And surely you’ve notice that I love to roast just about anything I can on this site.
Get yourself some asparagus before the season slips away for another year. And, please, do tell me, what is your favorite way to prepare it?!
Roasted Asparagus Risotto
Adapted from Simply Recipes
1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
1/2 C. finely chopped onion
1 C. uncooked arborio rice
1/2 C. dry white wine
3 ½ – 4 C. vegetable stock
1 t. minced fresh mint
4 ounces goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with foil.
Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough ends. Give the spears a rinse and then cut into bite size pieces. Place the pieces in a bowl of cool water and swish around to remove grit – let it sit for a moment so the grit falls to the bottom of the bowl and then remove the asparagus pieces with a slotted spoon. Pat dry and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all pieces and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown. Set roasted asparagus aside.
In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated. While the onion is cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of stock to the rice.
Continue to stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Gently stir in the mint, cheese, and roasted asparagus. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.