Friday, January 12, 2007

Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto

Risotto seems to me to be an autumnal or wintery sort of dish. This is partly because it involves standing in front of the stove, stirring, for a reasonable length of time, which, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere warm, could be unpleasant; I don't, and in any case I am happiest when toasting myself somewhere. I have been known to come out of the garden from a bout of sunbathing and turn on the heating once inside the house. I know that this is not something to be proud of, but then if my blog was intended to make me look good, then it would probably have to change genre and become fictional. Anyway the other reason I see risotto as cold-weather food is the combination of ingredients, which end up tasting luxuriously creamy and thus somehow warming. This particular risotto shows my preconceptions to be entirely wrong - risotto is more versatile, I think, than I have typically given it credit for.

A risotto with asparagus is obviously a summer dish. I should be making it with English, local asparagus, in its pitifully short season; I broke all the rules (again) in making it this week. (In my defence, it is a particularly blustery January, and risotto is ideal comfort food - if you think about it, it's almost like baby food with alcohol and cheese - perfect) This risotto also has lemon and mint, which also evoke warmth to me, although I seem to be engaged in a love affair with lemons which has well outlasted the brief summer heatwave. To make it, you make the usual Jamie risotto base, and I did this in advance and let it cool on an oiled baking sheet as he suggests, because this method seems more convenient to me. You chop asparagus stalks into tiny discs and leave the tips whole; add these to the risotto base and add stock in the normal way (see my other risotto posts for an explanation of the Jamie technique. Turn off the heat, beat in butter and Parmesan, chopped mint, lemon zest and juice; season, rest with the lid on, and serve with a smattering of lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.



This risotto is a little bit different - Jamie calls it 'simple' and 'clean' and it is; it is somehow fresh and zingy and summery, although it didn't hurt suffer from being served up in the windiest January I can remember. Jamie also suggests varying it by sprinking in freshly picked crab or lobstermeat, or fresh peeled prawns - I can imagine how lovely that would be. But actually I will, probably, wait until this recipe feels more seasonal to try out the various suggested variants on the original. It may be babyfood in disguise, sort of, but that doesn't stop it from being good.

22 comments:

Freya and Paul Erickson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Writing At The Kitchen Table said...

Kathryn,
Another yummy risotto! You are the risotto queen!
I too, hate cold weather. I constantly have a hot water bottle strapped to my back at work because my boss hates heat and is always leaving the doors open...grrr!!
Can't wait for the first asparagus of the season but this is the perfect way to use up the out of season stuff!
Have a great weekend!
Freya
p.s. Will email you soon!
p.p.s. Deleted my last comment as it was under another blog account that Paul is currently setting up. All with be revealed soon!

Helen said...

You'd love Australia, Kathryn. Lemons, mint and asparagus are available and of decent quality at most times of the year. I make loads of risotto for the baby-o but I cheat and whack in all the stock at once, or, worse, fling the pan in the oven. So it's never exactly "right" but it's edible, which is what I aim for at the moment.

Asparagus is probably the only veggie I don't like so I usually use green beans instead. I might try making this one - I may even try to do it properly this time!

Ilana said...

Goo goo ga ga, I love me some baby food disguised as risotto... or is the other way around. ;)
You are indeed the risotto queen; I think I have been dethroned, LOL...

xoxo
Ilana

p.s. got the DVD tonight and so far watched one episode. IT IS FANTASTIC! Thanks for making my weekend!

Charlotte said...

I'd never put my finger on why I love risotto so much, and now you've done it for me - baby food! I've earmarked this one for early summer because I cannot get asparagus or mint in Germany right now. I'm going to have to wait and it's difficult.

Instead I'll have to make the spinach one, or Nigella's lovely pea and parmesan risotto, which I think I will enliven with the addition of lemon juice. Like you, I can add lemon to almost anything, I love it so.

Kathryn said...

Freya - it's more that Jamie is the risotto king and I'm following him! Intriguing about another blog account. What are you two up to??

Helen - I would love Australia for all sorts of reasons I suspect. I have a few Bill Grainger books and I like that style of food but it's too cold for it here most of the time. And oven-baked risotto isn't bad, really. I'm not sure I'd be doing all that stirring with a small child to entertain at the same time! You're quite amazing.

Ilana - I thought of you when I said baby food. It is lovely. Glad you could see the DVD - did you watch it on the computer or the television?(it's the Nigella Christmas Kitchen programmes, if anyone else reading wants a dvd copy!)

Charlotte - it really IS baby food, isn't it? Legitimised baby food. My two favourites from Jamie have probably been the first two I made though - the squash, sage and amaretti one and the apple and walnut with gorgonzola - both seasonally appropriate and very comforting!

Kathryn

Ilana said...

Kathryn, on the computer. I didn't try on the TV but on the computer is brill. Thanks so much again!

xoxo
Ilana

Dazy said...

I'm making this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

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