Monday, 23 April 2012

Risotto primavera

Officially it's Spring now, I'm sure you had noticed by the fact that you've shelved all of your 100 denier tights, stored your winter coat away until next year, flung wide the windows and welcomed golden sunshine, streaming into your home. No?

No. I'm sitting here with the windows clamped shut, the radiators on and clad in not only 100 denier tights, but cardigan and jumper too. What a miserable April it has been.

But in the vegetable world, Spring marches on apace, and new season's asparagus is in the shops. I had some delivered in my fancy-pants organic veg box (it's cheaper than buying and wasting veg in the supermarkets honestly! My austerity measures haven't gone out the window just yet) so I decided to make a lovely risotto primavera, primavera being Italian for Spring, and that's the season we're in. Keep reminding yourself.

Risotto primavera is a jolly sunshiney dish which is also cheap and easy to make because it's mainly storecupboard and freezer things. Here's how I make it.

Serves 3-4 with a salad.

A large handful of risotto rice per person + 1 for the pot (this is not very scientific)
1 large onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 large leek
a slosh of wine if you have it (if you don't, don't worry - or use martini like I did - yum?)
2 pints (or therabouts) of veg or chicken stock
2 big handfuls of frozen peas
2 big handfuls of frozen broad beans
a bunch of asparagus, snapped at their bending point and stalks shopped into 1cm rounds - reserve 2 stalks per person for garnish
1/2 lemon squeezed
a big handful of parmesan
a handful of chopped parsley and mint

Fry the diced onion and crushed garlic in a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan. Set your stock on to boil in another pan, and also put another large pan of water on to boil for your peas. Add the chopped leek and a little knob of butter for good measure. Let it all fry away for a little while on a low heat until everything is soft but not coloured at all. Add the rice and give it a stir.

Chuck the wine in and let it bubble for a little while, stirring the rice. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir it until it's all absorbed into the rice. Do this again, and keep doing it until you're about two ladlesful from the end. Keep tasting the rice to see if it's cooked - if it isn't add ladlefuls of kettle water if you can't be bothered to make up a new batch of stock.

When your rice is almost cooked add your peas and broad beans to the boiling water (you could add them directly to the risotto but I've done that before, then realised the rice isn't cooked, and by the time it is the peas and beans are all mush - bad times) and let them cook for about one minute. Drain and set aside.

Put a frying pan with a little oil in it onto a medium heat. Add the chopped asparagus to the pan of risotto off the heat and leave to stand for around five minutes. The asparagus will cook through in the heat from the pan but still be crunchy.

Meanwhile add the whole asparagus spears to the pan of oil and let them fry for a few minutes until done. Don't panic if they look a bit charred. Whilst they're frying, grate some parmesan and chop some parsley and mint.

Finally stir a knob of butter through the risotto, add the parmesan, lemon juice, herbs and adjust the seasoning. Pile onto plates, top with the whole grilled asparagus, a drizzle of oil if you're feeling fancy and some more parmesan. Then turn your heating up and pretend it's Spring for 20 minutes.

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