While vegetables are lovely cooked until just tender, when they are blended into a risotto they are usually cooked fully soft so that they blend with the sauce. Here the asparagus stalks are cooked the entire time with the rice, but the tips are added near the end to retain their texture.
1 large bunch of asparagus, 1 to 1 ½ pounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup thinly sliced leek (white and pale green)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaved or crumbled dried
¼ cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups hot vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cut off the whitish bottoms of the asparagus stalks. Cut the remaining green stalks into thin rounds, stopping about 1 inch from the tips. Cut the tips lengthwise in half and set aside.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring once or twice, for 2 minutes. Add the rice and tarragon and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add the wine and cook, stirring until most of it evaporates. Add the sliced asparagus stalks and 2/3 cup of the warm broth and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add ½ cup broth and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to cook, gradually adding more broth about ½ cup at a time, for 10 minutes.
4. Add the asparagus tips and continue to cook in the same manner, adding more broth as needed, until the rice is al dente and the sauce around it is thick and creamy, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
5. Stir in the butter and cheese. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Serve at once.
From “The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health,” by Thomas Rau, MD, with Susan Wyler. Berkley Books 2009. Reprinted by permission.