The crocuses are in full bloom now and the scylla are peeping out all over our front lawn, and the tulips and daffodils don’t seem to be far behind. Birds are singing in the morning, BBQs are being fired up, and winter jackets have been put away (though perhaps prematurely, since spring is a fickle thing around here). Sure, it’s still freezing cold at night and it occasionally pours rain all day, but it’s still a wonderful time of year.
Best of all, it’s the season for fresh asparagus, so it’s plentiful and cheap at the local market. While I’m usually happy just to briefly steam the spears until they’re bright green and devour them plain (or with a dollop of homemade mayo), sometimes it’s nice to go with something a little fancier.
This risotto is like spring in a bowl – fresh, sunny and delicate. It’s also elegant enough to make a lovely vegetarian entree for an Easter feast, accompanied by lots of crusty bread and a glass (or two) of white wine.
Since the local greengrocer happened to have both white and green asparagus on hand, I used a mix to prepare the risotto this time around. However, it’s perfectly good made with the regular green kind if that’s what’s available to you.
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- 4½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup shelled edamame, thawed
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Snap the woody base off the bottom of asparagus spears and discard. Cut off the asparagus tops and reserve; chop stems into 1" lengths.
- Blanch the stems for 3 minutes in a pot of boiling water, adding the tips for the last minute of cooking (if using white asparagus or if the spears are on the thicker side, cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender). Drain and immediately submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over low heat. Cover and keep warm.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until evenly coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the warm broth one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently and waiting until the broth is almost fully absorbed before adding more, until broth is fully absorbed and rice is creamy, about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the asparagus stems, edamame, lemon zest, tarragon, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, spoon into individual bowls and garnish with asparagus tips and a sprinkling of Parmesan.