It's so true the old saying that those which 'grow together, go together'. Asparagus, Peas & Mint are a perfect illustration of that point. Tonight's dinner uses all three of those tasty items in an early spring risotto which is so fresh and so easy.
Some think risotto is difficult or fussy or takes too long. Not true! It takes about 25 minutes start to finish, which is a pretty fast dinner by my estimation. Yes, it does take a bit of stirring, but I do that while prepping the other ingredients, making the salad and setting the table. It needs stirring every couple of minutes, not nonstop for the entire time.
If you really just don't want to do the stirring, you can actually bake the entire dish at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Just add stock three times at 15 minute intervals, stirring after each addition. The risotto will be ready in about 45 minutes. I think it tastes better when made in the traditional method on the stovetop though, and it's faster. So that's how I'm suggesting you prepare it as well. The point is, it's easy and delicious .... do give it a try.
Risotto with Asparagus, Peas & Mint:
Yields about 8 cups
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cups Arborio rice
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks peeled, cut into 2" pieces
1 cup shelled fresh peas (or frozen, not defrosted)
1/4 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 TB unsalted butter
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1) In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable stock and water to a gentle simmer. Keep the stock warm while making the risotto.
2) In a 5 quart stockpot or dutch oven, heat the 3 TB olive oil. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute until fragrant and very slightly toasted, another 2 minutes more. Add the white wine and stir constantly until evaporated. Add the first addition of hot stock, about 1 cup. Keep the risotto just simmering and stir every minute or so until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.
3) Continue adding stock, in 1/2- 1 cup additions, every 3-5 minutes or so and stirring often. Keep the heat high enough where the rice is simmering but low enough where it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue the stock additions and stirring regime for about 18-20 minutes while prepping the other ingredients.
4) While the risotto is cooking, blanch the asparagus and the peas, if using fresh. (If you're using frozen peas, no need to do anything here.) Drop them both into the simmering stock for about 30 seconds- 1 minute, until they're bright green and just barely tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the stock and place them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until you're ready to use.
5) When the rice is almost ready but still just undercooked, add in the asparagus & peas, along with your last addition of stock. Finish cooking until the rice is pleasantly 'al dente' and tender, another 3-5 minutes or so. When the rice is cooked, add in the mint, lemon zest, butter, and parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve.