White asparagus are in season, and so it’s time to post a recipe that I cooked and photographed last year at the end of the asparagus season. White asparagus are the norm in Northern Europe. Although green asparagus are more common in Italy, there are also white asparagus in Italy. White asparagus are different from green in that you need to peel them and they have a more delicate flavor. Click here for the recipe for green asparagus risotto.
This asparagus risotto uses few ingredients: asparagus, risotto rice, onion, butter, parmigiano, salt, and white wine. The asparagus are braised in butter to preserve their flavor. Half of the asparagus is blended into a cream. The peels and bottoms of the asparagus are used to make a stock, so all flavor of the asparagus is used.
The highest quality asparagus are straight and perfectly white, but for this recipe I used curly and slightly pink asparagus, that are sold cheaply to prevent waste. Since the asparagus are going to be sliced into rounds and partly pureed anyway, the curliness is not an issue.
For 2 servings
500 grams (1.1 lbs) white asparagus
150-200 grams (3/4 – 1 cup) carnaroli rice (or arborio)
1 small onion, minced
5 Tbsp butter, divided
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
Peel the asparagus and remove the bottom 1 cm (1/2 inch). Reserve the peels and bottoms for the stock. Slice the asparagus into rounds of about 1 cm (1/2 inch), leaving the tips whole (about 5 cm/2 inches from the top).
Put the peels and bottoms in a pot with 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour. Use a pressure cooker for better flavor extraction.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a wide, low, thick-bottomed pan.
When the butter foams, add the asparagus and season with salt.
Cover and allow the asparagus to braise over medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Braise the asparagus until they are tender but firm to the bite and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Take the asparagus out of the pan and reserve. Do not clean the pan.
When the stock has finished simmering…
…sieve it into a pot.
Put the peels and bottoms in an old but clean tea towel…
…and squeeze out as much liquid as you can into the same pot. Keep the stock hot.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan in which you braised the asparagus, and add the minced onion.
Stir over medium heat until the onion is soft and slightly golden, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the rice, and stir over medium heat until the rice is very hot.
Deglaze with the white wine, and stir over medium heat until the wine has been absorbed.
Add a ladle of asparagus stock…
…and stir over medium heat until it has been absorbed.
As soon as the stock has been absorbed, add more stock. Keep adding stock and keep stirring until the rice is al dente, about 16 minutes.
Put half the asparagus rounds (not the tips) in a powerful blender…
…and blend until smooth.
If you do not own a powerful blender, you could also slice half the asparagus in much thinner slices. Thus you avoid stringy bits in your risotto, as this shortens the fibers of the asparagus.
Add the asparagus cream to the risotto…
…as well as the remaining asparagus.
Add another ladle of hot stock, and stir to incorporate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces, and a handful of freshly grated parmigiano.
Stir until the butter and cheese have melted. This is called mantecare. Allow the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes.
Serve the risotto on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.
Homemade gelato is wonderful, like this amarena cherry ice cream.