Spring is my absolute favourite time of year. Yes, I sneeze constantly and wake up with a blocked nose every morning but all of that is quickly forgotten once I smell the Jasmine blooming and see the gorgeous blossoms on the trees. It’s also the time of year where food becomes lighter and fresher. Gone are the days where stews, pies and curries are needed to warm us up and give comfort. Now I want zesty, sharp flavours and easy to eat food.
I just love this risotto because it combines the comfort of winter with the brightness of spring. Grilling the asparagus adds lovely depth of flavour and the lemon adds just enough sprightly zing to lift it all. A good grating of Parmesan and a knob of butter is all it takes to finish this delicious risotto. Serve with a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc and you have the perfect Spring meal.
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 500 g Arborio rice
- zest of 1-2 lemons depending on how lemony you want it
- 150 ml white wine
- 1 l-1.2l vegetable stock if you’re not vegetarian, you could use chicken stock
- 500 g asparagus thoroughly washed and woody ends snapped off.
- 50 g Parmesan grated
- 2 tablespoons butter cubed
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in a splash of oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds then add the rice.
Coat the rice in the oil then add the lemon zest and white wine.
Allow the wine to absorb into the rice then start adding the stock a little a time stirring to agitate the rice and allow it to release its starchy creaminess. The amount of stock needed varies as all rice absorbs liquid differently. You want the risotto to be creamy and ‘loose’. It shouldn’t be able to keep its shape and the rice should be al dente (soft and pleasant to eat but not mushy).
While the risotto is cooking, coat the asparagus in a little oil and grill on a hot griddle pan until charred. Slice the asparagus tips off and keep aside for topping the finished risotto. Chop the asparagus stems into small rounds and keep aside.
When the rice is cooked to your liking, add the chopped asparagus rounds, Parmesan, butter and lemon juice and stir in.
Season to taste then serve, topped with the charred asparagus tips.