Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. It exemplifies spring, regardless of the weather.
There are many varieties of asparagus available — thick, thin, green, white and purple. Wild asparagus has an enchanting flavor reminiscent of the color GREEN, in a way that cultivated asparagus doesn’t. Although the tips are the most succulent, the whole asparagus stalk can be used.
Here, asparagus is paired with ramps and upland cress, a type of watercress that tastes similar to horseradish. It has a pungent flavor that makes it a fantastic addition to sandwiches, salads or transformed into a pesto.
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6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch ramps, cleaned and trimmed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and slivered
1 bunch upland cress, stems removed, finely chopped
freshly milled pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Have the stock simmering on the stove over low heat.
Separate ramp leaves from the stalks and bulbs. Julienne the leaves and set aside. Slice the stems and coarsely chop the bulbs.
Steam asparagus until crisp-tender. Drain, then immediately plunge in a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain again and set aside.
Gently melt butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, ramp stalks and bulbs, and half the upland cress. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice, stir to coat the grains well and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine to the pot and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. I’m not going to provide a time estimation since all stoves are different. You’ll know it’s the right stage when the liquid in the pot goes from “soupy/mostly liquid” to “slightly on the edge of dry”. Wine gives risotto an acid note that perks up flavors.
Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next. When the rice tastes done, stir in asparagus, ramp leaves and remaining upland cress and cook for 1 minute. Add some julienned or torn mint leaves. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.
Time: 90 minutes, including prep.
This is my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging #283, currently hosted by Simona of Briciole and organized by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything. Weekend Herb Blogging is a weekly foodblogging event that was originally begun by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.