During the spring months, the farmers markets are filled with early spring produce and for people who love to cook, especially seasonally, the spring vegetable season is the beginning of many months of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Last week the 32nd Street Market (Waverly) had an abundance of vegetables and the asparagus and leeks were overflowing! I love asparagus and enjoy it in risotto as you can see from a previous post, here.
For the last few days in Baltimore, it's been either sunny and unseasonably cold, or a torrential downpour of rain and cold. Last night I decided to use the opportunity for good, comforting, warm risotto confettied with spring vegetables.
Preheat oven to 400*F.
For the spring vegetables:
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch peices
2 large leeks, sliced in half, cleaned and cut into 2 inch peices
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lay vegetables on baking sheet and toss together with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.
For the risotto:
1 c Arborio rice
1 c Arborio rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and finely diced
3 tbsp dry vermouth (you can use a dry white wine, but I love the vermouth in this particular recipe)
4 cups heated chicken stock ( I like to have a little extra in case. Use as much as needed to get the rice al dente)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
a wooden spoon (the essential tool)
Using a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil and butter over medium low heat and saute the onions until translucent. Add the Arborio rice, stir to coat with the oil and butter, and saute with the onions to toast each grain of rice, about 4 minutes. Once the rice is lightly toasted, add the vermouth, slowly stirring. After the rice has absorbed the vermouth and the skillet is nearly dry, add 1 cup stock, stirring occasionally, and cook over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to stir the risotto as you add the stock. (Adding the liquid in stages, instead of all at once, allows the grains of rice to expand more fully, adding to the risotto's creamy texture.) Once the rice has been added to the pan, the entire cooking process will take about 20 minutes.
Remove the roasted leeks and asparagus, and add to the risotto. Stir to combine, add the heavy cream and parmesean, stirring once more and allow to cook about 1 minute.
I added 1/2 c fresh peas (not roasted) and 1/3 c fresh mint. The mint and the peas really add the extra flavor kick to this risotto, that I think is essential to this springtime dish!