Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Risotto agli asparagi selvatici - Wild asparagus Risotto

Wild asparagus are ready to be picked now and the opportunity is not to be missed, here in Sabina. This variety, very different from the cultivated one we normally buy, is packed with flavour and antioxidants. Wild asparagus grow naturally in wooded areas and picking them require a lot of patience and the ability to spot them. A pleasant walk in the countryside can therefore double as a wild asparagus picking expedition. The actual asparagus plant is not difficult to spot, as it is very spiky and green. The new shoots are the edible part of this plant and appear right at the base of it. Wild asparagus can be eaten raw, but one of the best combination is with something smoked.This risotto combines these two flavours with the creaminess of rice and parmigiano cheese.

Risotto agli asparagi - Serves 6-8
Vegetable stock (carrot, onion & celery), 500 g of 'Arborio' or 'Carnaroli' rice, a bunch of asparagus, 50g of butter, 50g of diced 'speck'(northern Italian smoked and cured ham), 1 cup of grated parmigiano cheese, a small onion, white wine.

Make a vegetable stock in a large pot of water, add a whole carrot, onion and some celery and boil. Keep this on the boil. Finely chop the onion and gently fry it in butter. Add asparagus and 'speck'. Add rice and let it fry with all other ingredients for a minute or two, always stirring. Pour in a little white wine and let it evaporate. Pour enough boiling vegetable stock to cover rice. Add a little salt. Stir rice infrequently (do not stir too much). Add more boiling stock if necessary. Check salt and add more if necessary. When rice is 'aldente' (cooked but firm) add grated parmigiano cheese and stir vigourously. Serve immediately and buon appetito!

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