Super Asparagus-y Risotto with Farro (or Not)
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This recipe calls for puréeing about a pound of cooked asparagus and stirring it into risotto during the last five minutes of cooking. The purée allows every bite of this risotto to burst with the taste of asparagus and the tips provide a nice crunch as well as additional flavor.
You can make it with farro or arborio or carnaroli rice, though there is something about the farro that is very wholesome tasting. I recommend serving this the day it is made mostly because the asparagus pieces deteriorate a little bit after a day or two, and the color changes as well.
With very little butter and cheese, this tastes incredibly creamy and delicious, and I think it could easily be vegan-ized by using olive oil and omitting the cheese altogether.Print
Adapted from Gourmet and Mark Bittman’s recipe in The New York Times
I use the asparagus-cooking water as the water for the risotto, and it works nicely, so don’t feel you have to raid your freezer for stock. Water works great, too.
- 2 lbs. asparagus
- 4 to 6 cups water, chicken stock, vegetable stock, see notes above
- 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced finely to yield a cup
- 1 cup semi-pearled farro or arborio or carnaroli rice
- ½ cup dry white wine or prosecco
- 1 heaping tsp. kosher salt
- ½ to ¾ cup (or more or less to taste) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ½ cup toasted, coarsely crushed hazelnuts, optional
- ¼ to 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, optional
- Prep the asparagus. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Trim off the asparagus tips and set aside. Divide the stalks into two equal portions. Coarsely chop one portion—this is going to get boiled and puréed. Chop the remaining portion into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices and set aside with the tips. Boil the coarsely chopped asparagus stalks until soft, about five minutes. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the stalks from the pot and transfer to a colander. Rinse quickly under cold water or put in ice water; then drain and transfer the asparagus to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Set aside. Boil the asparagus tips and thinly sliced stalks for 2 minutes more; then use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the asparagus pieces from the pot and transfer to a colander. Rinse quickly under cold water or put in ice water. You can use the pot of asparagus-cooking water as your risotto making liquid if you wish.
- Make the risotto: Put stock or water in a medium saucepan over low heat. (If you are using the asparagus water, there’s no need to do this.) Put butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally until it softens, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add farro or rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine or prosecco, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add the salt. Add warmed stock (or asparagus water) ½ cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.
- After 30 minutes, begin tasting the risotto. You want the grains to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 45 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the asparagus purée and the remaining pieces of asparagus, being sure to drain the asparagus pieces first.
- Stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat, add cheese, hazelnuts (if using), and parsley (if using). Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: risotto, asparagus, spring