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.