When the vegetable stand on our market had French green asparagus, I could not resist buying them and decided to make a spring risotto.
White asparagus are available in the south of the Netherlands; solid and straight stems that make a wonderful meal with eggs, potatoes and cream.
In France, the white variety, sometimes with violet heads, comes from the Loire valley and the sandy grounds of Les Landes.
Asparagus are low in calories and rich in antioxidants and help clear your digestive system and bladder.
The French asparagus are usually thinner and less regular than the Dutch, and therefore less easy to peel, but certainly as good in flavour.
In the Netherlands, where we bought asparagus at a prize-winning producer, the asparagus are peeled in a machine. Most French asparagus are too fragile for a machine treatment.
The asparagus are white when they have grown in moulds of sand, without being touched by sunlight.
Green asparagus, however, do get sunlight. They are tenderer, have more vitamins and need a shorter cooking time. The heads of the violet asparagus have peeked out of the sand mould.
In some Asian dishes, green asparagus are stir-fried.
On French fresh markets, the green asparagus often come from as far as Peru.
Simply put, a risotto is rice cooked in stock, so the result depends for a large extent on the quality of the stock. I used homemade chicken stock (from the freezer) and carnaroli rice.
I separated the points from the asparagus stems, cooked the asparagus and then put it through the blender.
- 300 grams of risotto rice
- A glass of white wine
- One shallot
- Two cloves of (fresh) garlic
- A bunch of green asparagus (500 grams)
- One litre of chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 100 grams of grated Parmesan
- 50 grams of butter
- Two table spoons of olive oil
- Clean the asparagus, remove the hard stem ends, peel any tough parts of skin, cut off the heads.
- Cut the asparagus in pieces, cook in salted water for 15 minutes, drain and put through a blender.
- Bring the stock to the simmer
- Grate the cheese, set aside
- Chop the shallot and garlic
- Put butter and oil in a heavy casserole on moderate heat.
- When the foam has subsided, add the shallot and garlic and stir.
- Add the rise and stir, let it cook a while, monitoring closely to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Add the white wine, stir.
- When the liquid has almost disappeared, add a ladle of stock and keep cooking the rice for 15 minutes, stirring constantly and adding more stock when the rice risks turning dry.
- After the quarter of an hour, add the asparagus mix and stir for another five minutes until the rice is “bite” ready and still moist. Add the cheese and mix well, set aside.
- Fry the asparagus heads briefly in oil (or cooked them briefly in a thin layer of water) and drain. Taste the risotto and add sale and pepper if needed. Stir again and put in a dish.
- Dispose the asparagus heads on top and serve.