Asparagus is a nutritious vegetable that is prepared and served in a variety of ways, around the world. Often served as a stir fry with chicken, shrimp, bacon, etc., this versatile vegetable is easy to cook, and adds a great flavor to the dishes it is used in. One such enticing example is asparagus risotto prepared from fresh asparagus, risotto (Italian rice cooked with broth and sprinkled with grated cheese), wine, and lots of cheese.
Asparagus Parmesan Risotto
- 2½ pounds asparagus, tips cut off and reserved
- 8 cups chicken stock (alternative: canned low-sodium broth)
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium-sized shallots, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3½ cups Arborio rice
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
Cook the asparagus tips in a saucepan with boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and let it for 2-3 minutes or until they turn tender. Transfer the cooked tips to a strainer and rinse them with cold water. Similarly, cook the asparagus stalks, trimmed into small pieces, in boiling water with a pinch of salt, for about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the stalks to a colander, save 1 cup of the water in which they were cooked, and then rinse them with cold water. In a food processor, purée the stalks with the saved water and drain it using a coarse sieve, to remove the excess water.
In another saucepan, let the chicken stock simmer over low heat. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the shallots over low heat until they turn soft. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, followed by the rice; leave it to cook on medium heat. Now, pour the wine into the pan and stir until it evaporates.
Pour 1 cup of the hot stock into the pan, and stir continuously until it is almost absorbed. Continue pouring the stock, 1 cup at a time, until it is absorbed, completely. When the rice is almost tender, add the asparagus purée to it, and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Then, add the asparagus tips and wait for it to cook for another minute or so. Remove the rice from the heat; mix it with the butter, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Allow it to stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.
Chicken Asparagus Risotto
- 8 oz. asparagus, finely chopped
- 1 packet of boneless chicken cubes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3 tsp. olive oil (alternative: butter)
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- ½ large onion, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice (alternative: Carnaroli rice)
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan, let the chicken stock boil over low heat. In another saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the cubed chicken to the pan, cook until it turns firm and light brown; keep aside.
Take a large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sauté the onions in it, until they turn tender. Now, add the rice to the pan, let it cook until it turns opaque, and then add the wine and asparagus to it, stirring constantly till the wine evaporates.
Increase the heat, add ⅓ of the hot chicken stock, and allow it to cook, while stirring constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ⅓ cup of the chicken stock and repeat the above step. Combine the risotto with the oregano and basil, pour the leftover stock into it, and stir until it is absorbed, again. Season the risotto with the salt and pepper, garnish with the Parmesan cheese and chicken cubes to it, and serve.
Asparagus Mint Lemon Risotto
- 1 pound asparagus
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup vermouth (alternative: dry white wine)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lemon zest
- Handful of fresh mint leaves (shredded)
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Slice the asparagus stalks thinly without removing the tips; set aside. In a small saucepan, simmer the vegetable stock. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat the olive oil along with the butter over low heat. Sauté the onion and celery for about 10-15 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and toss well. Pour the vermouth into the rice, and stir until it evaporates, completely. Now, add the 2 cups of the hot stock to the rice, one cup at a time, and let it cook until it is absorbed.
Add the asparagus slices and tips to the pan, along with another cup of the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil by turning up the heat. Then, turn the heat to low, and stir well until the liquid is adsorbed, completely. Finally, add the last cup of the stock and leave the rice to cook until it turns soft and creamy. Turn off the heat, add the butter, lemon juice, mint, and Parmesan cheese to the rice, and mix well. Season it with the salt and pepper, and cover it for a minute or so. Garnish the rice with the lemon zest and mint leaves, before serving it.