What's not to love about Italian food. In Italy, they literally have food for all seasons. Lights things for hot days and warm, comforting dishes for cold days. Let's not forget the many, many, many, many traditional snacks they have. And some of them for particular times of the year or feast days.
I've been to and lived in Italy at practically all times of the year and my favourite for food by far is the spring that's just about to turn into summer. There is plenty of produce, it's grape harvesting time (almost) and it's perfect gelato weather. I mean, gelato after lunch, gelato after dinner, gelato... for breakfast? Mmmm maybe not breakfast but yea all the other times of day.
One thing I love is stuffed and fried courgette flowers. Yum! But this recipe is not in any way about courgettes. It's about asparagus. It's a vegetable I love and so do the Italians. Asparagus out of season is not nice. But when you buy fresh, locally sourced asparagus it makes aaaaaaall the difference. And it has to be in season.
Asparagus risotto isn't uncommon. But I've had it in restaurants before where it's been bland and that's really not fair to this delicious vegetable. So this recipe really brings out the flavour in the asparagus and it adds a very special zing to the rice that sings of springtime.
Lemon and Asparagus Risotto
5 stalks of asparagus, chunkily chopped
1 lemon, zested an juiced
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 onion, finely diced
1 glass of white wine
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g arborio rice
50g parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan. Cook off the onion and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the asparagus and lemon zest and stir until the asparagus looks really green. Add the rice and mix everything together, add the lemon juice and wine and when the rice has soaked everything up, start adding the stock little by little.
The rice requires constant stirring on a medium heat. Don't cook it too high or too much of the liquid will evaporate and not get soaked up by the rice. When the rice is nearly cooked, add the parmesan cheese little by little and make it as cheesy as you wish. Don't use all the cheese is you don't want to. To check if the rice is done, taste it. It should still have a tiny bit of bite but not enough to get stuck in your teeth! Season as you like with salt and pepper.
Serve with more parmesan on top.