It’s asparagus time! These little green stalks are all over the farmers markets these days, so we have a recipe full of spring vegetables for you today. The spring greens in this recipe can be substituted for any young stalky green, like kale buds or broccolini. We’ll use the stems to mix into the risotto and keep the flowers to use as an impressive garnish. An easy way to add more depth of flavour to this dish is to dress the end result using your favourite infused olive oil and mix in the ricotta. The lemon zest and ricotta will do well with lightly herbed oils, like garlic and rosemary, or thyme and sage.
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 white onion, cut into small dice
• 1/3 cup white wine
• 1/2 cup arborio rice
• 7 cup vegetable stock (homemade or from a cube)
• zest of 1 lemon
• 200 g ricotta
• 2 tbsp herbed olive oil
• 150 g of green vegetables (broccolini, asparagus, kale shoots, peas)
1. Set up a pot of your stock on the back of your stove. Make sure the stock is hot (near boiling).
2. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, herbed olive oil, lemon zest and chopped chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the broccolini and asparagus stems into small disks. Leave the tops whole.
4. Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat and heat up your olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add rice and stir until warmed up and coated in the oil. Deglaze with the wine, stir until the wine has evaporated. Add your first ladle of vegetable stock (if you are using homemade vegetable stock, add a good amount of salt to the rice at this stage).
5. Blanche the green tops in the stock for a minute, fish them out and toss with some herbed oil.
6. Gently, but almost constantly, stir the rice. When almost all the stock is absorbed add another ladle of stock, etc. Taste the rice regularly. Cooking risotto is not an exact science. It takes between 20 and 25 minutes. In the last five minutes, add your cut vegetables. Keep the blanched tops separate to put on top.
7. When the rice is cooked but has a little bite left (al dente), remove from heat. Stir a quarter of the cheese, season with salt and black pepper.
8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and the vegetables on top, and serve hot.