Eat in season: spotlight on Asparagus

 

In homage to all the yummy vegetarian food consumed over my self-indulgent retreat weekend I have decided to include an easy-to-make vegetarian recipe: Asparagus risotto.

This is all the more fitting as British Asparagus season – a highlight of the food-lovers’ calendar – is upon us. Traditionally commencing on 1 May and lasting for around 7 to 8 weeks, asparagus season is short and so we have to make the most of this delicious veg while we can get our hands on it. Of course asparagus is available almost all year-round (sourced from other countries) but it is generally best to choose and cook asparagus while in season.

Why eat in season?

There are many reasons why it is better to eat foods that are in season but the most important one is that seasonal food is fresher and as a result tends to be tastier and more nutritious. Other important reasons include:

– Supporting the local economy as seasonal food tends to be available locally;

– Saving our pennies as produce that is less available in the UK will have to travel a long way from other countries to get here which is a lot harder on the wallet;

– As locally-sourced food has less distance to travel this also reduces the energy and associated CO2 emissions needed to grow and transport the food we eat.

Definitely something to think about when doing your food shopping.

And now for the fun part…..I got this recipe from the BBC Food website. The ingredients are to serve 2 people – although many of us will be cooking for a family so I guess the amounts can be tweaked as need be. I’m planning to try this recipe this week so I might tweak it here and there based on the outcome…

Asparagus Risotto

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the risotto

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g/7oz risotto rice (eg carnaroli or arborio)
  • 250ml/9fl oz white wine
  • 500ml/18fl oz hot vegetable stock
  • 4 asparagus spears, blanched, chopped
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter
  • 75g/2¾oz parmesan*, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste- if required- I don’t usually add salt to anything)

Method

  1. For the risotto, heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the shallot and garlic until softened but not coloured.
  2. Add the rice and fry for one minute, stirring frequently, until coated in the oil.
  3. Add the wine and simmer until absorbed by the rice.
  4. Add the hot vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition to allow the liquid to be completely absorbed, until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
  5. Add the asparagus, butter and parmesan, season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well.

And there you have it – a yummy easy to cook risotto!

* I don’t think that parmesan is officially vegetarian- so this can easily be substituted with any grated vegetarian cheese! This shouldn’t make any difference to the finished dish- cheese is yummy whatever the variety!!!

**UPDATE – I tried the recipe this evening (09/05/12) and it went down a treat!

My versions:

  

Everyone loved it so I can now recommend this recipe personally….I did tweak it here and there as predicted – I cooked for 4 of us (1 of whom is a fussy eater so he didn’t eat much – but the rest of us polished his off – always a good sign!). I used 400g of arborio rice, kept 250ml wine, 750ml vegetable stock, I didn’t add butter or seasonings and used vegetarian cheddar not parmesan. I also used loads more asparagus- I used 2 bundles in fact, about 500g – so considerably more than the BBC recipe. The beauty about cooking is that you can always improvise and cook according to your and your family’s preferences. Used as a base though this was a great recipe.

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