You may remember that one of the first dishes covered on Cooking and Hooking was a basic risotto. Using Monique’s instructions, plus a recipe I found at Former Chef, I decided to try my hand at a risotto as well. And, to be quite honest, until we ate at the Hash House a Go Go in Las Vegas, I’d never had risotto in my life. I didn’t even know what it was or how to cook it. Turns out, it isn’t hard! But if I were you, I’d choose a cooler day to do it and maybe not while the oven is on at 425 to cook your husband’s pizza. Just a tip to stay sweat-free.
Other firsts with this dish? Blanching. I sort of understood the concept, but not the reasoning. A quick Google search gave me this great step-by-step! I’m sure some of you are well versed in cooking terms, like “blanching,” but to some of us that word is associated with only what my skin color would do if I saw a ghost. This is a much more pleasant thing.
Recipe: Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine (Tip: Don’t finish the bottle when you’re done. 1/2 cup in the recipe does not equal the rest for a solo dinner. Ow, my head.)
- 32 oz vegetable stock
- 1 onion, small diced (about 8 oz)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 10 oz mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used some brown ones Fresh & Easy had on sale. I know that isn’t specific, but I’m new to Mushroom Land)
- 1/2 lb asparagus spears, cut into 2? pieces
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
- Heat the stock in a small stock pot to a simmer. You will want it hot when you add it to the rice, but it does not need to be kept boiling.
- Saute the mushrooms in a hot pan with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Set aside for later. Nothing smells better than sauteed mushrooms. Nothing.
- Blanch the asparagus pieces, about 2 minutes, until they are cooked, but still firm. Set aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saute pan or pot. Add in the onions and cook until they are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown.
- Add in the rice and cook it with the onions until it becomes lightly toasted, but again, not brown. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed and evaporated (the rice absorbs the flavor and the alcohol cooks off).
- Ladle in 1 cup of warm stock and stir. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, as the rice cooks and absorbs it. Keep stirring every few minutes to help release the starch and develop the creamy texture. This will also prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As it gets the stock gets absorbed, add more.
- Once most of the stock is absorbed, check the texture of the rice. It should be al dente, slightly firm in the center, but not crunchy. If it’s still too firm for your taste, add more stock or water. (I used all my broth!)
- Fold in the cooked mushrooms and asparagus. Stir in the vegan butter. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sadly, I don’t have a funny story to tell you about risotto. This dish and I don’t have a deep history, yet. But asparagus? Beautiful, glorious asparagus.. I first found out I liked it while having dinner at my father-in-law’s. I was so cautious around the long, green stems, but not wanting to be rude, I accepted several onto my plate. The first bite had me hooked. Immediately and violently addicted to asparagus. That summer my husband and I ate it nearly every meal. It replaced our former broccoli staple.
When I had a garden that summer I wanted to fill it with asparagus. But then I found out that it takes years to get edible shoots out of the plants and, knowing that we’d move within the next year, it didn’t seem like the time to put the asparagus into the ground. I made a quiet vow that summer to plant asparagus at our new home. If the asparagus can settle in and grow roots for a few years, then I can, too.