Unassumingly displayed on the shelves of my local supermarket were beautiful bouquets of wild asparagus – French Woodland Asparagus. Tiny crunchy spears atop slender stalks, these are a fine addition to salad – wash, trim and blend with your favourite leaves. Alternatively, pop into gently simmering water for 4 or 5 minutes, cooking to al dente.

Pursuing the thought of less is more I decided to prepare risotto, an excellent midweek one-pot supper dish. The freshness of the tender asparagus cutting right through the creamy richness of the butter and parmesan; and even better, the wild asparagus requires no pre-cooking. Simply add to the rice 10 minutes into its cooking time and moments later dinner is served.

The usual Italian risotto rice is vialone, carnaroli or arborio, the difference between them quite literally being the grain size, vialone at 5mm, carnaroli 6.9mm and arborio 7mm.

Wild Asparagus Risotto

serves 2

  • 1 bunch wild asparagus, rinsed
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 160 g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • about 750ml good quality stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 25g butter
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Mix in the rice, thoroughly coating
with the butter and onion followed by a ladle of hot stock. Gently stir until the stock has been thoroughly absorbed then repeat
with another ladle-full.

2. Set the timer to 10 minutes and continue to add the hot stock, ladle-by-ladle ensuring it has been thoroughly absorbed before
adding the next. When the timer sounds add the wild asparagus and set the timer for a further 5 minutes. At this point you need to be attentive. The rice will need about 16 minutes cooking time, but may not absorb all of the stock, so, using a teaspoon, test a little - the risotto should have a slight 'bite' (al denté) whilst being creamy and not too dry.

3. Gently stir in the butter and parmesan cheese. Season to taste and serve immediately on warmed plates.

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