Springtime Risotto

Caiger’s Recipes: Springtime Risotto

Springtime Risotto

12 asparagus spears

200g of peas

Five tablespoons of olive oil

Two pinches of table salt

400g arborio risotto rice

Two and a half litres of water

Two medium onions

125ml of dry vermouth

100g of Parmesan

75g of salted butter

Four tablespoons of ricotta

Small bunch of mint; leaves removed

Salt and pepper

Firstly prepare the asparagus for the stock and risotto. Peel the base of the spears, going about two inches up from the bottom. Set aside these peelings for the stock. Next hold both ends of the spear and flex it. It will have a natural break point where the woody stem of the spear ends. Find this and snap it. Bash the woody ends lightly with the flat side of the knife and place it with the peelings. Chop the tips off the spears and set aside. You should now have three sections of the asparagus: the tips, the tender stems, and the woody ends with the peelings.

To make the stock, roughly chop one of the onions and fry it in three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the peelings and crushed woody stems and fry very briefly. Now add the water and two pinches of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat immediately and simmer for 20 minutes. When done, strain and reserve the liquid into a saucepan.

For the risotto, finely chop the onion and tender asparagus spears. Sweat the onion only in a heavy-based pan, with the rest of the olive oil and 50g of the butter. Place some dampened greaseproof paper over the onions to quicken and help the sweating process. While the onions are sweating, bring the stock to the boil. Add the asparagus tips to it, and poach for one minute until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and refresh them under cold running water. Next poach half of the sliced tender stems and 100g of the peas. After one minute remove with a slotted spoon and puree the peas and stems into a paste in a food processor.

When the onion is soft, add the arborio rice and fry for one minute. Add the glass of vermouth – there should be a real sizzle when this goes in and the alcohol burns off. When this has begun to be absorbed, add in a ladle full of the hot stock. From this point the risotto should take about 30 minutes to cook.

Stir the rice constantly while cooking and add more stock as necessary. The sauce around the rice should be creamy and not get too dry while cooking. After 25 minutes, when the risotto is about five minutes away, add the sliced tender stems of the asparagus and peas. Add the last ladlefuls of the stock.

When the risotto is cooked, stir through the puree, add the last 25g of the butter and the Parmesan, and beat it through the risotto. Season to taste.

To serve spoon the risotto on to the dish, top with a few poached asparagus spears, some baby mint leaves and a tablespoon of the ricotta.

The first WLL reader to email Alix Caiger in response to the recipe gets a free catered dinner for four people. Plus, the following 20 people get 20% off a booking with her: alix_caiger@hotmail.co.uk

Alix Caiger is based in Shepherds Bush and is a Leiths-trained caterer who runs her own business: caigerandcocatering.co.uk and is creator, editor and contributor of Creative blog and publication: hydeparkcreative.wordpress.com

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