Asparagus and walnut risotto

I like asparagus, though I struggle to find different ways to cook it apart from the usual sauté with garlic and lemon juice. It’s one of those vegetables that I have a love/hate relationship with. When it’s out of season, I miss it, but when it’s here and so abundant, there is a rush to stick it on the menu as much as possible resulting in asparagus burnout.

This recipe tempers the green taste of the asparagus with the nutty walnut and creamy risotto. It’s such a comforting food. I would serve this with simply pan-fried fish or poached chicken. I poached some free-range chicken with sweet vegetables (celery, onion and carrot) and herbs for the chicken stock, then served the risotto with slices of the poached meat.

As an aside, can someone explain the cult of (canned) asparagus rolls to me? I was introduced to them during a potluck lunch at my first job. I took one naïve bite, and was desperately trying to find a way I could spit it out without upsetting the colleague who made the dish.

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
10g butter
1 small onion, chopped (or ¾ of a medium onion)
1 cup risotto rice (I used Ferron Carnaroli which allows for a no-stir method)
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
200g asparagus, snapped into 5cm segments
zest of 1 lemon
40g walnut pieces
2 handfuls of grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter over low heat. Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes until soft and aromatic.

Add the risotto rice, and cook for 3 minutes. Add in the stock, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the asparagus, and cook, covered for another 5 minutes. Taste the rice, – it should be al dente.

Add the lemon zest, walnut pieces and grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir into the risotto. Serve hot.

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