- 450g new season's asparagus
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Approximately 1500ml stock (include some of the asparagus water)
- 45ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil
- 75g fresh unsalted butter
- Half a small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 400g Italian risotto rice, (arborio, carnaroli, vialone)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
- 50g (1/2 cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Trim asparagus and wash it well. Plunge it into a saucepan of salted boiling water and cook for 7 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and refresh it with cold water. Leave to drain, then chop it into short lengths.
Bring the stock to a slow, steady simmer (include some of the reserved cooking water), then lower the heat so that it stops simmering but stays very hot (if it boils, it will evaporate).
Choose a cast-iron casserole or heavy-based saucepan with three-litre capacity. Set it over a moderate heat, pour in the oil and add half the butter, then add the onion and garlic. Sauté until a pale golden colour, then add the asparagus. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring well.
Tip in the rice and stir thoroughly. Add white wine, cook for 3-4 minutes, then start adding the stock (2 ladlefuls to begin with). Stir gently but continuously until the stock has nearly evaporated. Continue cooking in this way for 10-12 minutes, adding stock as required and stirring continuously to stop the rice sticking.
The rice is ready when the grains are al dente - still firm and only just cooked through, but no longer chalky inside (this is a moot point; some of my Italian family like the rice quite undercooked). It will take around 20 minutes to cook. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper, then whip in the rest of the butter and parmesan cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 2 minutes. Serve immediately in hot bowls, accompanied by extra parmesan cheese.