This is such a simple, clean and delicious risotto. When buying asparagus, have a look around because there are lots of varieties available now—purple-tipped, white, thin straggly Japanese, wild Spanish and dozens of good English. In this recipe, the stalks are finely sliced to an inch below the tips—this will give you lots of flavor from the stalks and you'll then have those whole beautiful tips as a bit of a prize! There are variations on this risotto that I love to do, like sprinkling in a little picked crab or lobster meat or fresh, peeled shrimp or sliced scallops—all of these work particularly well with asparagus if you fancy a little upgrade. (If you do decide to add any of these seafood suggestions, then reduce your Parmesan by half.)
Servings: Serves 8
Ingredients 2 bunches asparagus , woody ends removed and discarded1 batch basic risotto1 1/4 pints hot vegetable stock or chicken stock7 Tbsp. butter1 to 2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese , plus a block for gratingBunch fresh mint , leaves picked and finely choppedZest and juice of two lemonsSea saltFreshly ground black pepperExtra virgin olive oil
Finely chop your asparagus stalks into tiny discs, keeping the tips whole. Make your basic risotto recipe
. Then put a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and pour in half the stock, followed by all of your risotto base and the finely sliced asparagus stalks and tips. Stirring all the time, gently bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice and asparagus are cooked. (You might not need all your stock.) Be careful not to overcook the rice—check it frequently while cooking to make sure it's a pleasure to eat. It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy and the overall texture should be slightly looser than you think you want it.
Turn off the heat, beat in your butter and Parmesan, mint, almost all the lemon zest and all the juice. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Place a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of lemon zest and a block of Parmesan on the table.
This recipe is taken from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion). © Jamie Oliver, 2007