I have to giggle when people ask me, "Why the hell would anyone want to live in Minnesota?" It's always such an assuming question. It's cold, right? What on Earth could possibly be remotely worthy to make someone endure such extreme temperatures?
I'll let you in on a secret. The magic is in seeing everything around you succumb to it's fate and return to the earth from which it came. It's through this transition a person realizes the impermanence of life and the care of design in everything around us. It's in the way Spring bounces onto the scene and breathes life into the ground to awaken the green. It's seeing beauty in the journey.
And with that simple answer to why, I bring forth an unfathomably divine risotto that my sweet b. made me for Valentine's Day. He really knows how to surprise me with the most fantastic meals! Since the asparagus is forging it's way into the market and tasting better and better the closer it gets to it's top season, I figure I will put this one out there just in case you see some good green unearthing in your supermarket.
Asparagus & Roasted Tomato Risotto
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends snapped
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small minced onion.
5 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups Arborio Rice
3 tablespoons butter
fresh-cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
splash of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt
Snap the ends off from your asparagus and put them into a large pot. Pour enough water in to cover them up. Cook them for about 5-7 minutes. Pluck the asparagus out of your pan and plunge into cold water. Add your stock to the pot of water you just pulled the asparagus from. Bring this mix to a soft simmer. Line up the asparagus on your cutting board and slice into 1 inch pieces. Reserve your tips for garnish.
In your Dutch Oven, add 1 tablespoon butter, your olive oil and the minced onion. Cook onion until translucent over medium heat. Then add in your asparagus, minus the tips. Add rice, remembering that a good risotto requires constant stirring. But it's oh so worth it. Begin adding the heated broth 1/2 cup at a time, taking care to make sure it's all absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue on your way until the rice gives a bit when tasted. It's a personal deal, but we like our risotto to be rich and creamy with the rice a just a bit firm. It should take around 20 minutes or so...just keep going till you love it. Because you will. I promise.
So then comes the bling. Add the rest of the butter and about 1/8 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Top your - God-given right to a decent dinner - with the asparagus tips, the roasted tomatoes and a decent shave of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Crack some pepper across that bad boy. Ferociously devour.