5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups bite sized pieces of asparagus
2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
zest one lemon
In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan Saute the garlic and shallot until lightly caramelized. Add the rice, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition. When you are about half way through the broth, add the asparagus to the rice.
Continue to add broth and stir. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, zest and chives.
I am excited to see the first stalks of asparagus making their way into the market. After a winter marked by two very large, late snow storms any sign of spring and warm weather is very welcome. The big farmers market opened for the first time this weekend. May is the first month one can find local produce with any sort of regularity or variety in Baltimore, some smaller markets are open year round but until now they were sparsely stocked with dairy and meats. So this time of year I eat lots and lots of asparagus.
Creamy risotto is one of my my favorite ways to use asparagus. It is easy, the asparagus really shines and typically it is not so hot yet as to make the prospect of stirring a pot over a hot stove seem unbearable. The lemon and chives add to the springy fresh flavor and complement the asparagus perfectly. What more could you ask of a weekday meal?
Note: As I normally do when I have leftover risotto, I made arancini di riso. Rather then dig through and cut the asparagus into smaller pieces, I just sort of tucked the larger bits towards the middle and surrounded them with rice.