Asparagus and Pea RisottoCourse: SidesCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Parmesan Risotto is the perfect blank canvas for just about any seasonal vegetable. Once asparagus season hits, I am all about this Asparagus and Pea Risotto.
If I can get my hands on them, I use fresh English peas instead of frozen peas for this recipe. Fresh English peas are in season around the same time as asparagus (April/May) and typically sold near the green beans in the supermarket produce section, both in their pods and already shelled. I love them because they are firmer in texture than frozen peas and have a more vibrant flavor. Mind you, I have nothing against frozen peas and would not hesitate to use them in this recipe if I couldn’t find fresh peas.
Quick tip for trimming asparagus if all of your asparagus are of similar length and width: I take one spear and snap off the bottom. That will demonstrate where the woody bottom ends and where the softer, more pleasantly edible portion begins. I discard the woody bottom (for compost, or some people juice them!), and lay the asparagus spear on my cutting board. I use that as a guide for where to cut the entire bunch of asparagus with my chef knife.
For this recipe, we precook the asparagus and peas by “blanching and shocking” the vegetables. This is fancy chef speak for cooking them quickly in generously salted water, then plunging them in ice water to stop them from cooking further. The reason for this is, we do not want to rely on the heat from the risotto to cook them, because then we run the risk of overcooking the risotto.
Also, we finish the risotto with a bit of lemon zest, which brightens the flavor of the dish delightfully. Please leave a comment to let me know how you enjoyed the Asparagus and Pea Risotto!
P.S. Leftover risotto with a fried egg on top (as seen in above photo) is one of my favorite savory breakfasts. Give it a try!
2 cups Arborio rice
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp white wine
8 cups chicken stock (you will probably need less, but I like to have a bit extra just in case)
1 lb asparagus, woody bottom trimmed
1 cup peas (English peas if you can find them, frozen if you cannot)
the zest of one lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated using a microplane grater
4 tbsp butter
freshly cracked black pepper
- Heat stock in a medium pot, and keep at a low simmer on a back burner.
- In another medium pot, bring 4 qts water and 2 tbsp Kosher salt to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice, then add enough water so bowl is 2/3 full. Add asparagus to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove asparagus from boiling water (I use a spider strainer) and plunge into ice bath. Drain asparagus and pat dry spears gently with a paper towel. Cut asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
- Bring water used to cook asparagus back to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes, just until peas are tender. Remove peas and add to ice bath. Strain and set aside.
- In a 4 qt pot, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in rice, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add wine and stir until evaporated.
- Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more. Cook until rice is creamy but still a little al dente (about 25-30 min). Stir in remaining butter until incorporated, then cheese.
- Add asparagus and peas and stir to combine. Once veggies are heated through, season risotto to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper. Stir in lemon zest right before serving.