Spring Risotto

March 16, 2012

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It finally feels like Spring here in Seattle. And for me, Spring means cooking up dishes that use all the fresh produce that's starting to flood the markets such as this creamy, delicious asparagus mushroom risotto recipe.

Living in Seattle we have a lot of rainy weather. So, when the Sun comes out, so do all the people. It’s like one big party. That’s what we’re in the midst of here: blue, sunny skies framed by majestic mountain ranges and the sounds of a bustling city rising from their midst.

All of this sun and warm weather has me in a bit of a spring tizzy. Add the recent arrival of asparagus from my local co-op, and I knew that it was finally time to make my annual arrival-of-spring dish: asparagus risotto. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using a recipe from The Garden-Fresh Cookbook because it’s easy, the flavors meld together subtly but perfectly, and it turns out beautifully, looking as much like spring in a bowl as a dish can.

A conveniently timed potluck offered the perfect opportunity to make and share this risotto. Since there would be vegetarians present, I subbed out the scallops for mushrooms. The scallops are delicious, but if you’re vegetarian or simply looking for earthy flavors, mushrooms are the answer. Feel free to play around with whatever else you think might make a tasty addition. This recipe is flexible enough to stand up well to experimentation.

Beautiful, fresh ingredients for a delicious risotto: Arborio rice, yellow onion, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and the star of the meal, spring asparagus.

Mushrooms sizzling away in the cast iron. I browned them in two separate batches (to avoid poaching and over-crowding) with a tablespoon of olive oil each time.

Cook the onion until tender and translucent in 3 tbsp of butter. Add the rice, stir for 3 minutes and then settle in for the long haul as you add a ½ cup of broth at a time until all 6 cups are absorbed. It took me close to an hour. Trust me, it’s worth it!

The finished product! Creamy, colorful and bursting with flavor this was the perfect way to ring in spring and celebrate the sunny weather. Complete the meal with some red wine and a gathering full of friends and I guarantee this dish will be placed on your annual rotation as well (if not weekly….)

THE RECIPE:

1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound bay or sea scallops (sub 8 oz mushrooms for vegetarian option)
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
2 tablespoons heavy cream


1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Steam the asparagus briefly, drain, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the scallops to the water and cook (poach) until white and firm. Drain, set aside, and keep warm. In a separate saucepan, heat the broth. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the rice to the onion, reduce the heat, and stir for 3 minutes. Add the hot broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Continue cooking and stirring for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove the rice from the heat. Add the cream, Parmesan, scallops, and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.

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Kelsey is a Boston native and current Seattle transplant. When not chasing the sun around the state of Washington she can be found doing crosswords on her commute, rock climbing, biking, organizing as many potlucks as possible, and skiing (mostly spent defending the mighty mountains of the east coast). She loves cooking, sailing and traveling and will take you up on an offer to drink coffee, sit by a fire, and play scrabble any day. 

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Comments

I can't wait to make this

By Catherine Boeckmann

I can't wait to make this recipe! The first dish I learned to make (believe it or not) was a risotto (sausage, mushroom, and peas) as my heritage is Italian. This will be a lovely spring compliment! Great photos, too.

This recipe looks delicious

By Emily Adamson

This recipe looks delicious ... is there really anything better than risotto with fresh asparagus!? Happy spring!

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