Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Parsley

I’d been craving a good, creamy risotto for several days when I came across some pencil-thin asparagus on sale last weekend. I combined it in my risotto with fresh parsley, spring onions, and some other Local Box goodness, and I had a winner. I topped it with prosciutto that I tossed in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up, like bacon.

Now, risotto does require a bit of elbow grease in the form of near-constant stirring. You might break a sweat. I usually do. But the stirring is necessary to unlock the starches in the Arborio rice and give the risotto that telltale creamy texture, so just do what I do: put on some good music, pour a glass of wine, and sing along as you stir. It’ll go by before you know it. I promise.

Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Parsley

2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of spring onion bulbs, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup Arborio rice*
1/8 tsp saffron threads, crushed
3/4 cup white wine*
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb thin asparagus, bottom 1 1/2 inches removed, the rest cut into 1 in. pieces
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay prosciutto slices on a greased cookie sheet and bake 7-8 minutes, until crisp. Set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, leek, and carrots, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep warm. Add rice and saffron to vegetable mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir wine and cook 1 minute or until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is mostly absorbed before adding the next — this takes about 25 minutes total. When you’ve gone through about half of the stock, add the asparagus. When rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt, and pepper. Top with parsley and crumbled prosciutto.

Makes about 4 servings.

*It’s important to use Arborio or another short-grain rice — don’t try to sub regular long-grain rice. It doesn’t have the starch necessary to produce a creamy texture.
*3/4 cup is about the amount in a picnic bottle of wine. I don’t like putting my drinking wine in my dishes (feels like a waste), so I buy the little four-packs of wine and use those instead. It’s much better than that salted “cooking” wine you buy in the vinegar section of the grocery store.

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