Think of this recipe as a model or basic risotto recipe. You can vary it in many ways, substituting other vegetables, alone or in combination, depending on the season: in spring, freshly shelled green peas or fava beans; in summer, peeled and seeded red-ripe tomatoes, zucchini, or sweet peppers roasted and peeled; or in autumn, fresh fennel or chunks of butternut squash.
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock, for vegetarian)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 cups rice for risotto
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter freshly ground pepper
- Heat the stock to a bare simmer and keep it simmering very gently as you prepare the risotto. Break off the heads of asparagus and set aside. Trim the bottoms and break into 2-3 pieces.
- Add the olive oil to a kettle and set over medium-low heat. Turn the onion, salt, garlic and the asparagus stalk pieces into the oil, and gently cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the asparagus quite limp.
- Add the rice and stir well. Cook for several minutes, or until the rice starts to change color and sizzles in the fat. Add the wine, raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until the wine has been absorbed. Now start adding the simmering stock, a half cup or so at a time and stirring after each addition. After 15 minutes, stir in the reserved heads of asparagus.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in about 1/4 cup of the cheese, the butter, and the pepper. Cover the pan and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Nancy Harmon Jenkins, The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, Bantam Books.