Risotto was the trendy dish to master when I began my food career in the eighties, before that I’d never heard of it! The carb that formed the culinary base of my southern Italian roots was pasta—risotto, a classic northern Italian dish, seemed reserved for a more refined palate. What made this dish so enticing was its’ creamy consistency, nothing like the conventional rice we were used to. The longer you stir it the creamier it gets!
This rice dish has become a regular part of mainstream menus but what got me thinking about it again was the fact it’s naturally gluten free and is a delicious carrier for almost any vegetables you may have in your fridge. Here’s one of my favorites for spring.
- 20 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 small onion, diced
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice*
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- Preheat over to 425°.
- In a medium bowl toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast 10-20 minutes or until tender, turning once in between.
- In the meantime, heat broth in a saucepan over medium heat; keep at a simmer while preparing risotto.
- Heat remaining olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper. Stir in garlic and arborio rice; cook and stir until rice is lightly toasted, about 5 more minutes.
- Pour white wine into rice mixture, stirring constantly, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir hot broth into rice, one ladleful at a time, allowing liquid to absorb completely before adding more while stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Add asparagus and stir.
- Remove from heat and mix in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
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