"I don’t mind stirring risotto after work – it’s a good way to unwind. This recipe is a favourite when the new season peas and asparagus are about. Just get someone else to pod the peas..." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
- 500 g asparagus
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) chicken stock
- 250 g fresh peas, podded
- 50 g butter
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 350 g risotto (Arborio) rice
- 250 ml dry white wine
- 1 tsp salt
- a few grinds of white pepper
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp torn fresh basil leaves
- 4 tbsp grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To prepare the asparagus, snap off the woody ends. Cut off the top 7 cm of the tips, reserving the stalks. Slice the tips diagonally into 1 cm pieces and set aside.
Place the stock in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the peas and simmer for 3–4 minutes or until tender, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Return the stock to the boil, then add the asparagus stalks and simmer until very soft. Scoop the asparagus out with a slotted spoon and place in a blender with enough stock to make a purée. Pass through a sieve, then return the purée to the stock and stir over low heat.
Heat half the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft but not browned. Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains. Add the wine and increase the heat to bring to the boil. Add the salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring continuously until half the wine has evaporated.
Add the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. After 10 minutes, add the peas and asparagus tips. Continue adding the stock until the rice is al dente and creamy. Stir in the remaining butter, then stir though the lemon zest, basil and parmesan.
Leave to sit for five minutes while you lay the table and pour a nice glass of wine. Serve with black pepper and extra grated parmesan.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Vanessa Austin. Food preparation by Alex Herbert.