Saturday, June 12, 2021

First Look: Springtime Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

It's a beautiful June day here in Saskatoon. We've had a decent amount of rain, which means my yard is green and lush, and while the grass is getting too tall, I kind of love it because the cats can scoot around in it and hide like it's their own jungle playground. This totally cracks me up. I love those little critters. The peonies have formed small heads and in about 2 weeks time they'll become the bombshells of the backyard, and honestly, there's no time like peony time! I also love the moisture because it means Dixon's huge vegetable plot is coming along nicely, and for the last month or so I've been enjoying the best springtime asparagus. If you follow me on Instagram you know how bonkers I get about it. I love it so much that it graces the cover of my new cookbook! Isn't it gorgeous? The inside is just as pretty, and I can't wait to share more with you. So much hard work and love and eating went into this collection of recipes. Plus the dishes. So many dishes. One day I will have a dishwasher! 

Asparagus is the vegetable that brought Dix and I together and you can read all about our first date later this year. Vegetables: A Love Story will be in your favourite book shop (and amazon) later in September, with official pub date set for October 5th. The cookbook is currently being printed, and I'm so excited to get my hands on the first copy! Once I know the pre-order details, I'll be sure to share them with you. Yay! Can't wait!

To celebrate this verdant vegetable, I made risotto today. This recipe is not in the book, but 92 others are. (Plus, seven essays!). I adore risotto and had a hankering, so I threw this together for a late lunch. There's lots of stirring involved, but it's very therapeutic, at least I think so. I love the pop of flavour from the asparagus and peas, and it's so fun to snip off fresh herbs from my kitchen garden again. Creamy and savoury, this is one of my favourite springtime meals. And, with the leftovers I'll add an egg, dredge in panko and make risotto cakes. I'm super excited for that. Subconsciously, I think this is why I make risotto in the first place. You can't see me but I'm totally winking at you. Hope all is well where you are. xoxo

Springtime Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
4 Tbsp salted butter, divided
1 bunch (about 1/2 pound) asparagus, preferably thin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
zest of 1 lemon

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Turn down to low and keep covered. 
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt 1 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the asparagus, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces. Add the peas and cook for another minute or two until the peas are warmed through. Transfer the vegetables to another plate. 
3. In the same pot over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it's glossy and translucent around the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until completely absorbed. Ladle in 1 cup of the hot chicken broth and stir until it's absorbed. Continue doing this with remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, until the rice is al dente and creamy, about 25 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the rice, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. If it sticks, turn the heat down. 
4. Once the rice is cooked, it should be saucy but not soupy, stir in the vegetables, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and serve with more Parm. Makes 4 servings as a main dish, or 8 as a side. 

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