Spring Summer Recipes

Asparagus and prosecco risotto

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The creamy texture of this asparagus and prosecco risotto depends on two things.  Firstly the quality of the rice, and the gentle coaxing of the cook. It should be an informal dish to make for friends, stirring and chatting and maybe having a glass of prosecco while you do it.

I like the acidity of prosecco paired with fresh English asparagus, at the height of its season now. Carnaroli rice has short stubby grains which release starch when stirred, making a creamy sauce but retaining a little bite in the centre.

Look for superfino varieties of rice which denote the highest grade.

Serves 6.

This recipe originally appeared in the May 2022 edition of House and Garden magazine.  Photograph courtesy of Nassima Rothacker.

Ingredients

  • 700g asparagus
  • 1.2ltr chicken stock
  • 50g butter
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 350g Carnaroli risotto rice
  • 150ml prosecco
  • 40g Parmesan, grated
  • 20g basil
  • 20g parsley

Instructions

To prepare the asparagus:

  • bend the stalks until the ends snap off naturally – these ends will be fibrous but full of flavour so you can add them to the stock. Reserve the rest of the stalk for later.
  • Put the stock in a saucepan and add the asparagus ends. Bring to the boil then reduce to a low simmer.
  • In a separate large heavy based pan (I use a Le Creuset casserole) melt half of the butter and add the onion and ½ teaspoon of salt. Saute gently over a medium heat until soft and translucent.
  • Add the rice and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes before adding the prosecco. Stir constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding a ladleful of the stock, avoiding the asparagus stalks that are bobbing around in it.
  • Stir the rice intermittently to agitate the grains so they release their starch, this will make the sauce creamy and unctuous. When the rice becomes dry rather than soupy, add another ladle of stock.
  • Between stirring, chop the remaining asparagus stalks into short lengths – about the size of a pea, but leave the very tips of the spears whole.
  • When you’ve used about half of the stock, add the chopped asparagus to the rice and continue to cook, stirring and adding stock as needed.
  • After about 20 minutes, or when the stock is nearly used up, taste a few grains. They should be yielding and soft with a small residual bite. If they seem chalky, keep cooking, otherwise turn off the heat, and vigorously stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan, season to taste and add enough stock to ensure the rice is wet enough to fall off a spoon when tilted.
  • Finally, while the rice rests, wash the herbs, removing any large stalks and chop finely. Give the rice a last taste and stir in the herbs before serving.

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