Occasionally it happens. One taste of a special dish and the conversation stops, replaced with sighs of delight. Luxuriously creamy risotto does that. This was the scene Sunday afternoon with the first bite of Roasted Asparagus Risotto. Its heightened color and flavor from the abundance of spring green vegetables made the risotto oh so luscious, resulting in the quiet savoring of each bite. Before long our “dining club” became more of a “clean plate club.” Our conversation resumed reinvigorated and even more enthusiastic than before.
Spring’s the perfect time of year to try a new recipe. If you’ve steered clear of risotto in the past thinking it too complicated, too rich, too long a process, etc., wait no longer. Just take this Roasted Asparagus Risotto recipe one step at a time. You’ll amaze yourself and everyone else with the results.
Risotto as party food?
Unless you have guests that like hanging out in the kitchen with you, it’s difficult to imagine serving risotto for a dinner party. Of course, there’s a trick involved. I learned it while catering in Los Angeles.
Begin cooking the risotto up to a couple of hours before dinner. Stop the cooking process half way through and transfer the rice to a baking sheet to cool. Then about 20 minutes before you want to serve the risotto, return the rice to the pot and resume the recipe from where you left off.
Just read an article in my inbox this morning praising both spinach and asparagus as two of spring’s superfoods. When roasted, asparagus becomes even tastier. The slightly crisp outside contrasts wonderfully with its juicy interior. With all the vegetables and minimal butter and cheese, Roasted Asparagus Risotto still has a luxuriously rich and creamy texture. Thanks due, of course, to the naturally starchy (and unrinsed) Italian short grain arborio or carnaroli rice.
P.S. All three vegetables—asparagus, green peas and spinach—make the World’s Healthiest Foods list.
P.P.S. I still have the package of brown carnaroli rice in the cupboard from my visit to Eataly last September. Soon I’ll try Roasted Asparagus Risotto with this brown rice. I wonder if risotto prepared with it will be as luxuriously creamy—I’ll write an update and let you know.
Watch risotto being made
Learn to make risotto with me during my next Healthy Cooking Class on Saturday, May 18th. The flavorful and beautiful spring vegetable-forward menu features Roasted Asparagus Risotto w/ Peas & Spinach. Come savor the moment.
Register today. Just two spaces left. Write a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box below or email me to reserve your seat at the table Janice@EverydayHealthyEverydayDelicious.com.
Roasted Asparagus Risotto with Peas & Spinach
Inspired by and adapted from a number of recipes,
including Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ Asparagus Risotto from The Café Cook Book. Elegant, creamy and comforting Roasted Asparagus Risotto features an abundance of spring green asparagus, peas and spinach for heightened color, flavor and nutrients.
Makes 6 servings
Active and Total Time: 60-75 minutes
2 – 2¼ pounds medium asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil
7-8 cups well-flavored vegetable or chicken broth OR 2 tablespoons Organic Better Than Bouillon concentrate (vegetable, chicken or a combination of both)
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
4 ounces fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1 cup peas, defrosted if frozen
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
- Snap off the tough ends from the asparagus. Place the ends in a pot along with 7 cups of water or broth. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers. Cook the asparagus ends for 15 minutes. Strain and discard the asparagus. Save and measure the cooking liquid. Add additional water or broth to equal 7 cups.
- Return the liquid to the pan. If using water and not broth, make the water into broth by seasoning it with the bouillon concentrate. Cover the pot. Keep the broth hot over very low heat.
- Meanwhile, roast the rest of the asparagus:
- Place the asparagus spears in one layer on a rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle with the olive oil, coarse salt and ground pepper. Shake the pan back and forth to evenly coat the asparagus.
- Put the asparagus on the lower rack in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and again shake it back and forth to reposition the asparagus. Return the pan to the oven for another 4 minutes. (Note: with thicker spears increase the roasting time by two minutes.)
- Cut the tips off the roasted asparagus in 1½-inch lengths and set aside. Cut the remaining stalks into 1-inch pieces. Use a blender to purée 1½ cups of the stalks with a cup of broth. Set aside.
- Place a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When hot add 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir in the minced onion. Cover the pot and cook about 5 minutes till the onion is translucent.
- Add the rice. Stir the rice for a couple of minutes until each grain becomes coated with the oil and butter.
- Add 3 cups of the hot broth to the rice. Keep the broth at a constant and lively simmer. Stir the rice every few minutes until the broth is absorbed. The bottom of the pan will be almost dry.
- Add a ladleful of broth. Stir frequently until it is absorbed. Repeat ladle by ladle, stirring until one ladleful is absorbed before adding the next.
- After about 20 minutes, begin to check the texture of the rice. Continue to cook the rice (adding ladlefuls of broth when required) until the rice is almost al dente. There may still be broth remaining in the pan.
- Stir in the puréed roasted asparagus, spinach and peas. As necessary, stir in a little additional broth (or water if you’ve used up all your broth) to loosen the risotto’s texture. Stir in the asparagus tips and stalks. Optional: reserve a few asparagus tips for garnishing each bowl.
- Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in a tablespoon of butter and the grated Pecorino Romano. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as necessary. Risotto should be slightly soupy. Add additional broth or water to reach the perfect consistency.
- Serve immediately, possibly garnished with the reserved asparagus tips.