Yes, asparagus and I are having a moment currently…
Today the aforementioned asparagus is getting married together with prawns (a match made in heaven may I add) to give us this oh so creamy risotto.
I am very often asked what my favourite dishes to cook and to eat are and risotto is always towards to top of both lists. Every time I make it I am in awe of the capacity of the humble grain of arborio rice. When cooked in stock it gradually and generously releases starch into the risotto which is how it becomes so glossy, thick and creamy even before it has been coated in butter and parmesan. I find this cooking process so therapeutic – you have to constantly stir and watch over the pan to facilitate peak starch production (PSP). In a world of fast food and fast living this is a brilliant excuse to just stand in one place with a glass of wine in hand. To achieve PSP use the back of a wooden spoon and slowly massage the rice into the stock; you can tell that this is working if when you push the rice across the pan a thick pale liquid is left behind. It always reminds me of the tracks left in the sky by planes.
A risotto base is made up of very few ingredients (rice, onion, garlic, wine and stock) and then you can add a variety of herbs, vegetables, meat or fish on top of this if you wish. I have added in asparagus, prawn, mint and a spritz of lemon juice into today’s recipe for the perfect springtime supper. I always like to finish the dish off by adding dollops of butter to the rice, covering it and letting it to sit for a while because as all foodies know everything is made better by the addition of butter.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 200 g arborio rice
- 75 ml white wine or Noilly Prat
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 100 g asparagus, ends removed
- 150 g king prawns
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 handful of mint leaves, finely sliced
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- In a large high sided frying pan heat up the olive oil on a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally. Finely slice up one asparagus spear and cook that alongside the onion and garlic for five minutes until soft. Avoid letting any of the vegetables catch and burn as that can spoil the taste so add more oil if needed.
- Turn the heat up to high and pour the rice into the pan and leave it to cook for one minute until it starts making a popping sound: this shows that it is absorbing the excess oil. Pour the wine into the pan, give the rice a light stir and wait for all the liquid to get absorbed.
- Now it is time to start adding the stock – gradually add the stock to the pan a little at a time and gently stir the rice and stock together. Ensure that each amount of stock is absorbed fully before you add the next. Do this for roughly thirty minutes – the rice should be cooked through, though slightly Al dente and the consistency should be creamy.
- Roughly chop the asparagus and prawns and add them to the pan (I like the asparagus to have a slight bite which is why I add it at the same time as the prawns). Add the lemon juice and mint and season lightly with salt and pepper and stir gently until everything is combined. Add a tbsp of hot water to the pan and leave this on the heat for a final five minutes so that the prawns and asparagus can cook.
- Remove from the heat and dollop over the butter, cover the pan with a lid to allow the butter to melt over everything and then serve!
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