Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Asparagus three ways

While at the farmer's market last weekend, I came across the harbinger of spring: asparagus. After seeing the green beacon, I started to notice all the other signs of spring: blooming trees, daffodils, and my boyfriend putting his computer aside and saying, "Hey, let's go to the park."

To celebrate spring, I wanted to make something to showcase the light, playful vegetable. This dish starts with a simple asparagus risotto in combination with seared asparagus and topped with deep fried asparagus strands and a light lemon butter. Sorry to those still buried in 6 feet of snow - don't worry, you'll be able to eat this dish soon.


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 C white wine
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 C broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 3+ C water
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 half lemon (juiced, about 2 T)
  • 4 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 C canola oil (or other frying oil)

In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the garlic and saute till translucent. Add the rice and stir till all the grains are completely covered in oil. Add the white wine and allow to cook into the rice. Add the broth and the lemon zest and mix thoroughly. As the liquid cooks down, replace with a half cup of water and stir. Keep doing this for about a half hour until the risotto is the right consistency.

Meanwhile, cut the tough ends off the asparagus. With a few of the larger ones, use a vegetable peeler to create asparagus strips. Then cut the last few inches off the rest of the asparagus. Cut the ends into 1 cm pieces and microwave in water for 3 minutes till tender.

About five minutes before serving put the asparagus tips in a large frying pan with olive oil over high heat. Sprinkle with salt and cover. After a minute shake the pan to move the asparagus around. Cook for a few more minutes and then turn off the heat. Leave covered.

Heat the lemon juice over a medium flame and slowly whisk in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take off flame.

Meanwhile, heat the frying oil over high heat in a small pan (if you have a frier, heat it up so that it's ready to go right before everything else is done). Add the asparagus strips to the hot oil for about 3 minutes, or until crisp.

Strain the microwaved asparagus and add that and the Parmesan to the risotto and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Place the risotto in the center of a plate with the seared asparagus to the side. Drizzle with the lemon butter. Top with the crisp asparagus strands.

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