Saturday, April 30, 2011

asparagus and mushroom risotto.

spring has arrived in the northwest tip of germany! apart from the blooming flowers, 10pm sunsets and an abundance of gelato stands, i'm most excited about the return of my favorite green vegetable to the fresh food market.

it's been a while since i've spotted asparagus around these parts. the green has a very short season in germany, lasting from early april to mid june, at which point it disappears as spontaneously as it came. of course, green asparagus' ugly brother (white asparagus) roams these parts in excess all year long, but let's not kid ourselves: there's no comparison.

hence: the need to squeeze any and as much crispy green spears into my diet as possible in the next month. i'd declare an asparagus challenge, but it wouldn't even be a competition. frankly, i'm probably going to consume more than the doctor recommends - or my stomach can digest! - anyway... which is saying something given that theoretically there's "no such thing as too many greens." we'll see about that!

recipe #1: an asparagus and mushroom risotto. i adapted the original recipe by tossing in a few mushrooms and black olives and leaving out the butter. as risotto amateur, i was amazed at how well this dish turned out. in particular, it was amazingly light. if you're looking for a heavy, hearty course, this isn't going to be your dish.

all risottos require a bit of focus, and this one is no exception. but put in the required half hour or so, and you shan't be disappointed! you can also substitute in other vegetables or add more if you'd like a dish heavier on the veggies. as for me, i'll be trying some shitake mushrooms next time.


4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2 in. pieces
6-8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup black olives
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, chopped (for garnishing)


in a small pot, bring broth to a simmer.

heat your oil in a large pot. add onions, garlic, and rice. cook, stirring, until the rice is browned (about 4 minutes). stir in broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly until almost all the broth is absorbed before adding more. do this until rice is al dente, which should take about 20 minutes.

steam asparagus and mushrooms separately under the asparagus is tender and crisp. about 3 minutes before rice is done, add asparagus, mushrooms, and olives to the pot. let the rice finish cooking, and salt and pepper to your liking.

serve immediately, garnished with cilantro.