We get such a prolonged dose of winter in Michigan, that by the time spring does arrive, we have really earned it. After root vegetables for months on end, at last it’s time for a fresh palette of new colors and delicate flavors. And that’s the inspiration for this delicious Risotto with Fresh Asparagus and Baby Peas.
Prized for its very high starch content, short-grain arborio rice is commonly used to make risotto because it absorbs liquids and flavors so beautifully. In fact, it’s a key element in creating the creamy texture that makes risotto…well, risotto.
While the rice cooks gently in a savory mixture of hot broth and white wine, the risotto develops its signature smooth and velvety texture. Your risotto is ready once the individual grains of rice are tender, yet still slightly firm in the center.
Risotto really is best served immediately. Left to sit too long in the pan once prepared, risotto can dry out, or turn mushy.
This dish is a special treat, and even though risotto is infamous for requiring tremendous patience, I think you will find this recipe is pretty much as easy as stirring. Plus it’s ready in just about 20 minutes.
Arborio rice was at one time grown exclusively in Northern Italy, but now it’s also grown in Texas and California, and easy to find in just about any grocery store.
Even though cheese is found in traditional risotto, you’ll hardly notice the missing cheese in this one. And with delicate green asparagus and rich flavors of white wine, garlic, and caramelized onions, you may have a hard time convincing anyone it’s vegan.
RISOTTO WITH FRESH ASPARAGUS AND BABY PEAS
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
I cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable broth, heated
1 bunch fresh asparagus, washed, ends removed, and trimmed into 1 1/2 inch-long pieces
1/2 cup baby peas, fresh or frozen
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
(1/4 to 1/2 cup water, only if needed)
In a large saucepan or electric skillet, sauté diced onion for 3 to 5 minutes (or until softened) in a few tablespoons of water, to prevent sticking. Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 minute more.
Add the rice and the wine, and stir until absorbed. Add one or two ladles of vegetable broth at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until broth is almost completely absorbed before adding more. After using the broth, if additional liquid is needed, add just a little bit of water at a time. (You may not find this step necessary, depending on how hot your skillet is.)
After cooking the rice in liquid for about 15 minutes, add the fresh asparagus and baby peas. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook for about five minutes more, just until vegetables are barely tender.
Once rice looks creamy, and grains are almost tender, but still slightly firm in the center, remove from heat. Allow to sit without stirring for one minute. Season to taste, and serve immediately.