The asparagus crop is looking lovely up here, so I took out one of my favorite recipes and made Asparagus Risotto. The recipe is adapted from Vegan World Fushion Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi of Blossoming Lotus Cafe fame. The book is full of wonderful recipes, and this is one that I turn to again and again. In addition to being delicious this way, it’s also a great base for other risotto recipes. Instead of asparagus, just add whatever you prefer or have on hand: peas, mushrooms and thyme, squash… you name it, it will probably work.
To begin, you’ll need some heated liquid on hand and ready to go (either vegetable broth or water). While the water warms up, simmer shallots in olive oil. After a few minutes, add arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes. You want to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn and so that it will be completely coated with the shallot oil. The next step is to add a hit of acid to the mix, in this case lemon juice but you could use a vinegar instead. After the lemon juice is absorbed, begin adding your warmed water or broth, stirring until it is fully absorbed. It will look about like this at this point:
Meanwhile, cook some asparagus in whatever way you choose. I went with oven roasting, but steamed or blanched is also perfectly nice. Once it’s cooked and cooled, cut the asparagus into bite-sized bits.
Back in the saute pan, you keep on slowly adding liquid and stirring and stirring until the rice has reached the desired consistency (a nice creamy al dente). Depending on your rice, this will take anywhere from 3 to 5 cups of liquid and 20 to 45 minutes, generally somewhere in between both of those ranges. Once your last bit of liquid has been absorbed, add the following items to make it dreamy: coconut milk, tahini, mirin, saffron strands soaked in a bit of water, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste. (Note: the original recipe also calls for adding nutritional yeast, basil, parsley, black pepper and soy sauce, but I’ve dropped those over the years.)
Stir until all of those ingredients are creamy and well-blended and then add your asparagus bits until heated through.