I have mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again, I *love* asparagus! After much trawling in the farmers markets I found a lovely asparagus stall with big bunches of asparagus. How could I leave them there? I usually like to cook them as simply as possible to keep their strong fresh flavour but it had been a while since we had risotto so I thought I’d make a nice summery one with it. I find asparagus goes really well with lemon and feta so thought I’d adapt a tried and trusted asparagus recipe. I prefer to use feta that has sheeps milk only as the cows milk ones (or even those with a little cows milk) don’t have as nice a flavour, I find them more acidic. Apparantly, the reason cows milk is added is it’s much cheaper and reduces production costs. Anyway, I found a nice organic sheeps feta so used that in this recipe. I always make enough for four people so that we can make risotto balls with the leftovers. Recipe to follow in my next post :-)
3 shallots, finely chopped
400g risotto rice (I used Vialone Nano but any will do)
200ml white wine or vermouth (noilly prat is a good one)
1 3/4 litre hot vegetable stock
700g asparagus, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, preferably unwaxed, zest and juice
Crumbled feta – about half a pack
Heat the olive oil in a wide, high-sided pan (a stock pan works well) over a low heat.
Peel the shallots and chop them finely.
Cook until soft and translucent ensuring it doesn’t go brown.
Stir in the rice on the heat until the risotto rice is hot.
Add the wine/vermouth and cook until the alcohol has evaporated off and the rice has only a little liquid left.
Keep the stock on a low heat throughout the recipe.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and chop the rest into small chunks.
Add a ladleful of hot stock, turn the heat up to medium, stirring the rice until the liquid has almost disappeared. Add the asparagus reserving the tips.
Continue adding the stock one ladleful at a time as it boils down to almost nothing.
Keep stirring the rice. The stirring releases the starches and ensures that your risotto has a creamy texture.
After 15 minutes or cooking time add the asparagus tips.
The risotto will be ready when the rice is creamy is al dente (still has a little bite).
Season with salt, pepper and the lemon juice to taste. Garnish with some lemon zest and sprinkle some crumbled feta on each portion.