Monday, July 8, 2013

Wild Asparagus Risotto Recipe


At the market the other day I saw one of my favorite vendors with her usual massive piles of green and white asparagus. (I find myself very firmly on Team Green Asparagus.) But she also had these weird little bundles of "wild asparagus," which I would not initially have recognized as asparagus at all. They have tiny, delicate stalks and big bushy heads, and they kind of looked like a different plant entirely. But they're not, they're wild asparagus.

So I got some to play with. I ate a couple raw, and they had a flavor like a very light, young asparagus. (Which seems obvious, but sometimes you just have to put something in your mouth to believe it.) I've also been in the mood to make a risotto recently, so I made wild asparagus risotto.

I started with Mario Batali's Asparagus Risotto recipe, which Mark Bittman published in the New York Times. I changed it around a bit so there's no big asparagus chunks in it, so for the original please check Bittman's article. For mine, read on.

Wild Asparagus Risotto 
Adapted from Mario Batali

1 pound wild asparagus
4-6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 a small yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan

First blanch the wild asparagus by putting in a pot of boiling water until it turns bright green, then take it out and dunk it in a bowl of ice water to stop it from cooking. Then cut the heads off the asparagus and puree all the stalks. I used a Magic Bullet left in my apartment by the previous tenants for that.


Then set the vegetable stock to simmer so it's warm when you need it.

Next, put two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter into your pan over medium heat. I am using a wok, because I am in, like, romantic love with this new wok and wanted to see if it would work for risotto. A flat-bottomed pan would probably have been better (this is a flat-bottomed wok, but the flat surface is relatively small compared to a full-sized pan) but this worked much better than my crappy pan normally does, so I'm going to call it a win.

When the butter is melted and the combination is hot, add the diced onions and stir a bit until the onions are glossy and translucent.

Then add the rice and cook it for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so they cook evenly.


Then add the white wine and stir. When the wine has cooked off, start adding the vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time. (That's just a rough estimate. It doesn't need to be exactly 1/2 cup every time.) Each time you add it, allow the liquid to cook off before adding more.

After about 15-20 minutes, start tasting it to see how cooked the grains are. They should be soft and a little bit hard on the inside. When the dish is finished, you still want to be able to taste the individual grains.

When it's just about ready, add the asparagus puree and stir.

Then add the Parmesan and stir again. Taste it and make sure you don't need any more salt or pepper or Parmesan.

Add the asparagus heads and serve with a bit of Parmesan sprinkled on top.


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