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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Asparagus Risotto: Using the CSA Box Veggies

With the arrival of the weekend one day after our first CSA box of veggies, we decided to open a swell bottle of Zinfandel and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and make something delicious with our first bounty of the season.

We decided to alter one of our favorite risotto recipes to take advantage of what we had. Instead of the green beans the recipe called for, we subbed in our large bunch of asparagus, which we steamed lightly to soften it up and cook it just a bit. Then we cut it into 3/4-inch pieces, saving the cute tops for garnish.

People avoid risotto because it requires more or less constant attention for 20 minutes, but it's really pretty easy. And we've never made a risotto that we didn't love.

The Recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. It's actually pretty low-fat and healthy.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 cups broth
1.5 cups arborio rice
1 bunch asparagus, lightly steamed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small onion
1 tomato diced
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup pesto (optional), either basil- or cilantro-based
salt

Start with a Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven on medium high. Add a chopped small onion until it softens (not browned). Add a cup and a half of rinsed arborio rice and stir it to coat the rice with the oil.

While you're getting ready to cook, heat 5 cups of broth (chicken or veggie stock will do) to a simmer in another saucepan.

After the rice is coated, add a cup of the hot broth and stir until all of the liquid is pretty much gone. Add another cup and stir until almost gone. Add a third cup and stir. When the broth from the third cup is almost gone, add the asparagus, which has been steamed and cut.

Add the last two cups of stock, one at a time, or even half a cup at a time, stirring to absorb the liquid each time. This slow cooking will cook the rice. Test to see that the rice is tender but still a bit al dente. Add salt to taste.

Add the tomato, parmesan and optional pesto. For pesto we used our fave cilantro pesto because we had some on hand, and it added a marvelous tang. (The original recipe calls for 12 cup parmesan, but we lowered the amount to 1/3 cups and it was great.)

We served it with steamed swiss chard with a splash of fig-infused vinegar. The sharp chard was a nice balance to the almost sweet and tangy risotto. They tasted great with both the red Zinfandel and the white Sauvignon Blanc.

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