Risotto with Lemon and Herb and Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
This chapter is a free excerpt from What's For Lunch, Honey?.
You won’t find me complaining about the scorching sun. After having lived in the Middle East for several years I know what scorching really means. Nor will I moan about it being sticky and humid. Instead, I kick off my flip flops, throw open the patio doors, and enjoy!
In the evening, the table is set outside. A light salad made with fresh vegetables, fruit and a crumbling of soft goat cheese starts off the meal. Colorful and light. The glasses are filled with a refreshing, chilled sparkling wine, my lips craving the coolness of the liquid.
A tangy and herby risotto follows, accompanied by roasted balsamic asparagus. A perfect harmony of summer flavors served in a simple yet refreshing dish. Lemon and herbs complement each other so perfectly and the wonderful flavors of asparagus adds another level, boosting this dish to new heights.
Ingredients:For the risotto
- 1 liter stock/broth (use chicken or vegetable, whatever you have in store)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely cubed
- 1 small parsnip, finely cubed
- 400g Risotto rice
- 250ml dry white wine (if cooking for kids substitute this with more stock)
- Salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 70g butter
- 120g parmesan, grated
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- A bunch mixed herbs of choice, finely chopped (I used, thyme, rosemary, mint, chervil and chives)
- Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bunches green asparagus, woody ends removed and discarded and cut into thirds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Pinch of fleur de sel
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil
- 1 tablespoon good aged balsamic vinegar (use one that has been aged for a minimum of 10 years)
Method:For the risotto
- Bring the stock to a boil. In a separate pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil together and add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot and parsnip. On a low heat sauté very gently for 15 minutes until the flavors have combined and caramelized. Be careful, and do not allow them to take on color. Add the rice and increase the heat.
- Keep stirring the rice while it cooks and takes on a glassy color—approx. 1 minute. At this point add the wine (or stock) and as it bubbles, allow the rice to infuse with the wonderful aroma.
- Once this has evaporated and the rice begins to get dry add a ladle full of stock. Stir well and add a touch of salt. Reduce the temperature so that the mixture bubbles gently. Now, keep adding the stock, a ladle at a time, and allow the rice to soak this up, stirring every now and then. When the rice has soaked the liquid add another ladle full. By "massaging" the rice this way you release the creamy starch from the rice giving the dish a fantastic consistency. This whole process takes approx. 15 minutes. The rice grains should be soft but still have a slight crunch to them. Now add a bit of salt and pepper, but be careful, as the stock is normally salty enough—so please taste before!
- Take the pot off the heat and add 70g butter, lemon zest, herbs and parmesan cheese. Mix well and cover. Allow the rice to take on all the flavors—2 minutes. Giving the risotto this time allows it to unfold it's perfect creamy-moist consistency. Check and adjust seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (356ºF).
- In a large bowl toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic and sea salt. Spread the asparagus out onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the asparagus are cooked but still have a good bite to them.
- Remove from heat and drizzle the roasted asparagus with the pumpkin seed oil and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.
- Serve the asparagus with the risotto immediately. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine.
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