Recipe: Asparagus and Spring Pea Risotto

Everything is coming up green in the Elk River Valley, so it’s only fitting that Chef Chol serves up a light recipe filled with seasonal greenery. This is a great one for entertaining, or just a yummy dish to relish at the end of a big day at work.

Asparagus and Spring Pea Risotto

Ingredients:
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 cup chopped yellow onion
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 5 cups (40 ounces) vegetable or chicken broth, divided (if your broth comes in 32-ounce containers, feel free to avoid opening another container by substituting 1 cup water for 1 cup broth in step 3)
• 1 1Ž2 cups carnaroli rice
• 1Ž2 cup dry white wine
• 1 big bunch of fresh asparagus spears (about 1 pound)
• 1 1Ž2 cups fresh English peas (about 8 ounces)
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
• 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Zest and juice of 1Ž2 lemon, preferably organic (about 1Ž4 teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoon juice)
• Handful chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preparation:
• Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and place another rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough ends and discarding them, then slicing the spears diagonally into 1 1Ž2-inch long pieces. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
• Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and rice and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
• Deglaze with white wine and simmer until the wine is nearly gone. Add 4 cups broth (or 3 cups broth and 1 cup water), cover the pot, and bake for 15 minutes.
• Once the risotto has been in the oven for 5 minutes, transfer the asparagus to the lower rack of the oven. Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and take off the lid. Quickly dump the peas inside, cover the pot again and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes. (This will give the peas time to steam.)
• Remove the pot from the oven but leave the asparagus in for another 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and roasted to your liking. Remove the pot lid and add the remaining cup of broth, the Parmesan, butter, salt, a generous amount of pepper, and the zest and juice of half your lemon.
• Using a big spoon, stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Stir in the roasted asparagus. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide into bowls, and top with a generous sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.