Spring Risotto with Asparagus "Pesto"

Spring Risotto with Asparagus “Pesto”
Serves 4 as vegetarian main course

1 pound of asparagus, trimmed, blanched* and chopped into 1 ½ inch lengths

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt, to taste
2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
4-5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup (or so) asparagus pesto, divided
1/2 cup Romano cheese (plus more to pass), grated

Set aside a handful of asparagus tips and ¼ cup pine nuts for garnish.
First make the pesto:  Place the remaining asparagus into a food processor, along with the spinach, garlic, cheese and remaining 1/2 cup of the pine nuts. Pulse until mixture is roughly chopped.  Then, with the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the pesto to loosen the mixture. Continue pureeing until the pesto forms a thick paste that still retains some of its original texture. Add lemon juice and salt, adjusting the seasoning as necessary.  Note: You will have more pesto than you need for this recipe. Toss additional pesto with hot pasta for a quick weeknight meal, add to grilled cheese sandwiches or stir into potato soup.
When you are ready to make the risotto, bring the stock to a simmer in saucepan.
In another (large) saucepan or risotto pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it begins to turn translucent.

Stir in the rice, being sure to coat all of the grains with oil. Add the wine, and cook until the alcohol flavor is diminished and the rice has absorbed all of the flavorful liquid. Add 1/2 cup of asparagus pesto and stir to incorporate.

Now begin adding the simmering stock approximately 1 or 2 cups at a time, stirring constantly. Each addition of stock should be absorbed before the next addition is made.  The entire process will take about 30-35 minutes.

After the last addition of stock, add the remaining asparagus pesto and the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.

Place risotto into a large serving bowl, or individual dishes. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips and pine nuts.  Pass additional Romano cheese at the table.

*To blanch asparagus, drop the asparagus spears into a pot of boiling water.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the spears are bright green and just barely tender.  Drain the asparagus under cold running water to halt the cooking process. 

1 comment:

Carole said...

Hi there, this is a really nice post about asparagus. It would be great if you linked to it in my Food on Friday series. This week it is about all things asparagus. Food on Friday