With spring in the air and Fidget in the hammock, thoughts naturally turn to the noble asparagus…
This really is staple food: easy to prepare, delicious, nutritious and – right now – in season. What could be better?
You will need 150g risotto rice (Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Arborio), 2 tbsp olive oil, a shallot, vegetable stock (about a litre) or water and a stock cube if you are pressed for time, a bunch of fresh asparagus (stems chopped in 1cm lengths leaving the 3–4cm tips intact), ½ a small glass of white wine, knob of butter, parmesan to taste. To stir, a wooden spatula is recommended.
Start by slicing the shallot very thin and frying it gently in olive oil. Alongside, in a different pan, put your asparagus (chopped stems and tips) in the stock and bring to the boil for a minute or two. Then scoop out the asparagus and keep aside ready to use. Keep the pan on a low heat so that the stock doesn’t go cold.
When the shallot is soft and translucent add the rice and mix well: it gives the impression that it is catching but it is just toasting. Keep stirring. Add the white wine and let it sizzle/evaporate, stirring continuously with your spatula. Now add the asparagus to the rice (reserving the best tips for decoration), keep stirring and add ladles of stock, one at a time – just enough to prevent the rice sticking to the pan, but not ‘stewing’ it.
Continue cooking your risotto, adding a small ladle of hot stock at a time and stirring (note: you may not need to use all the stock, it’s the texture that counts). It should take 18–20min for your risotto to cook (check the package), but you’ll need to taste often towards the end: you want your rice to be cooked but retain some ’bite’ on the inside of the grain. Towards the end of the cooking time be ready with the butter and grated parmesan: turn the heat off and mix them into the rice.
Decorate with the reserved asparagus – and waste no time before tucking in (that’s Fidget’s top tip!).