I have recently come back from a trip to see my family in East Anglia, and a bonus to going at this time of year is that it’s asparagus season – there’s something about going to remote farms and buying bunches of the stuff that I love. This is a nice straightforward recipe that really brings out the best in the flavour of asparagus and complements it well with the subtle herbs and flavour of the rice – real comfort food!
Serves 4 to 6
1 large bunch of fresh tender asparagus, roughly chopped, retaining 6 stems whole for decoration
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
250g Arborio risotto rice
100g frozen peas
100ml white wine
750ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon
1 tbs dried mint
1tbs dried marjoram
20g vegetarian Parmesan style hard cheese, grated (optional if vegan)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic and fry gently until the onion is soft, ensuring it doesn’t brown.
2. Add the asparagus pieces and rice and stir continuously for two minutes to ensure the rice doesn’t stick and is coated evenly with the oil.
3. Add the herbs, vegetable stock and wine, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
4. Add the frozen peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a griddle pan gently fry the whole asparagus stems in a little water until tender and set aside.
6. Season the risotto to taste, top with the whole asparagus stems and grated cheese if using, and serve immediately with a side salad or toast.