ASPARAGUS AND LEMON RISOTTO #SUNDAYSUPPER

Today I’m joining a group of bloggers to become part of the Sunday Supper Movement, which is all about bringing family and friends around the dinner table to enjoy a meal together, and who is known more for their big family meals than Italians?! Hope you enjoy the feast and joining the Sunday Supper Movement with me!

Eating in Italy is essentially a family art, practiced for and by the family. The finest accomplishments of the home cook are not reserved like the good silver and china for special occasions or for impressing guests, but are offered daily for the pleasure and happiness of the family group. ~Marcella Hazan

When we think of Italian food often our minds go to rustic, hearty dishes like bolognese and lasagna and who could forget pizza. And on a Sunday afternoon in January there is nothing I love more than standing over my dutch oven stirring sauce, however, come Spring I want to celebrate the fresh flavors of Italian cooking. Having had the opportunity to travel through Italy in the Spring it was a revelation of flavors… lemons, capers, olives, fresh vegetables, ricotta and grilled fish. The simplicity of combining a few fresh ingredients to create something magical is the essence Italian cuisine.

asparagus, lemon, risotto, asparagus and lemon risotto, recipeRisotto has endless variations and knowing the basic recipe ensures that you will never be without a delicious supper idea. With just a few ingredients you can create a creamy masterpiece capable of winning hearts. How do you think I made the lovely husband fall for me? One pot of mushroom risotto and he was hooked on me and risotto.

This risotto celebrates Spring by placing the spotlight firmly on asparagus. And let me tell you there is no waste in this recipe you will make use of the full spear from the woody end to the tender tip, which ensures this dish is full of flavor with only a few key ingredients. The clean, bright flavor of asparagus is exaggerated by the lemon zest in the best possible way. And the Perocino Toscano is the crowning glory…

asparagus, lemon, risotto, asparagus and lemon risotto, recipeI once read that if Parmigiano-Reggiano is the king of cheeses, then Pecorino Toscano must be considered a prince. And since Spring is about celebrating youth and vibrancy, I thought Spring vegetables need a prince, not a king.

After all this is an Italian feast and cheese selection is very important.

If this is your first encounter with Pecorino Toscano then be prepared for a surprise as you may be thinking – Pecorino that’s the hard white cheese next to the parmigiano at the grocery store right?… No Pecorino Toscano is firm (not hard) and depending on the age it can be bright and grassy or buttery and nutty, but always rich and ultimately, an unforgettable cheese. Pecorino Toscano DOP is specifically made in Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria, and just as with wine, each micro-region within the DOP zone lends its own characteristics through its particular terroir… My apologies if I’m geeking out on you a little! Just a quick education on an oh so delicious cheese.

There may be other options to top this risotto, but when it comes to Spring vegetables like asparagus and fava beans, Pecorino Toscano is prince charming.

asparagus, lemon, risotto, asparagus and lemon risotto, asparagus risotto, recipeCooking risotto is the perfect relaxation for Sunday night after a busy weekend. Allow yourself to get lost in the simple task of adding stock and gently stirring…

And once it is finished, sitting around the dinner table with family and friends enjoying this bright, flavorful risotto is la dolce vita. Enjoy!

Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch asparagus,

  • 10 spears
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • Pecorino Toscano cheese
  • Pepper and salt

Instructions
 

  • Break the woody ends off of the asparagus spears, place in a pot with the vegetable stock, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 mins.
  • Cut the tips off of the asparagus spears and set aside. Roughly chop the remaining section of the asparagus spear, place in a pot cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil asparagus for 7-8 minutes until tender. Strain and place in a food processor to purée. Set purée aside.
  • Blanche the asparagus tips and set aside.
  • Set a pan over medium heat, add butter and melt.
  • Add shallots and cook until soft, but do not allow shallots to brown.Add arborio rice to pan, coat in butter and toast rice for 1 minute. Then add one ladle of stock at a time. Allow the stock to fully absorb before adding more, continue this process for approximately 25-30 minutes until the rice is creamy and tender.
  • Stir the asparagus purée and the zest of one lemon into the risotto. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Top with asparagus tips and shaved pieces of fresh pecorino cheese.

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