Risotto Primavera with Asparagus, Peas and sorrel
Risotto is a wonderful way to highlight the flavours of spring. The slow cooked rice absorbs the nuances of flavour and aromas of the vegetables you incorporate into the dish and is enriched with butter and cheese, bringing spring to your table in a one pot dish.
Like pasta, risotto waits for no one. Other than a short rest once it’s cooked, you make and serve it right away. When weather permits I make risotto in my outdoor kitchen while family or guests sit around the table, help stirring when needed and enjoying a conversation as the delicious aromas of the risotto and herbs growing around the garden waft gently in the air.
I made this simple risotto with fresh local spring asparagus and green peas but you can substitute with other ingredients you may have on hand.
The lemon is an important element and you can begin adding the lemon juice after the rice has been added or anytime after that. I also adjust the lemon flavour at the end with a squeeze of a lemon wedge at the end if needed.
Risotto is easy to make but requires your attention throughout the cooking. I work with two pots, one at the back burner with the stock, one on the front burner with the rice. After cooking the rice in butter until it is translucent and shiny you first add some wine and let it evaporate and then begin to add the stock, little by little, allowing the rice to absorb all the liquids before adding more. It’s not the kind of dish you leave on the stove and go do something else. Making a risotto is rewarding and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and a delicious plate of food.
4 cups stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
1 small bunch asparagus
1 cup small fresh green peas
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper
2 cups sorrel leaves, cut into ribbons
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Cut the stem end of the asparagus off at the point where it breaks naturally.
Slice the stalks on the diagonal into 3/4 ” slices from the bottom up, leaving the flower end intact.
Place the asparagus tops in the microwave with a little water and cook just until bright green. Set these aside and use to garnish the risotto.
Place the stock in a pot on a back burner and bring to a boil. Once boiled, lower heat and keep warm.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy pot on the front burner, add the shallot and cook until fragrant, a couple of minutes.
Add the rice and cook, stirring until it is well coated with the butter but do not allow it to turn golden.
Add the lemon juice and stir it in.
Now begin to add the stock, a 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the liquid into the rice until is is absorbed before adding the next 1/4 cup. Continue adding the stock and stirring until the risotto is 3/4 done. You will need to taste it as you go to check when it is done. Adjust the heat as necessary.
Taste as you cook and add salt and pepper to taste.
When the rice is cooked 3/4 of the way through add the asparagus stems and the peas and stir them in. Continue cooking and adding stock until the risotto is fully cooked but retains some bite.
Just as the rice is ready add the sorrel ribbons if you have them and stir them into the risotto.
Taste and add more lemon juice if needed.
When ready, add the butter and half the cheese, stir it in and cover the pot for a couple of minutes to let the risotto rest.
Spoon the risotto into serving bowls, garnish with the asparagus tops and the remaining shredded parmesan.