Spring is in the air, although perhaps not yet on the ground, and when it comes to spring vegetables asparagus is it! If you haven’t enjoyed asparagus before, do give it a try. Asparagus is very easy to make as it tastes really good roasted, or in a soup. It is also one of those risotto-friendly ingredients that blends well with creamy rice to add crunch and earthy flavor.
The path to a really lovely risotto goes through picking the right rice and cooking it with patience and with a lot of stirring. My go-to rice for risottos, as well as for sushi and other rice dishes that need a stickier rice variety, is medium grain rice. This is a point of difference with most risotto recipes out there as they recommend using short grain rice variety called arborio rice. Arborio rice will work really well in this recipe too, so if you have it on hand go for it. The kinds of rice that may not work well here are the long grain variety, like Jasmine or Basmati rice.
Cooking risotto does require lots of stirring, and one trick that I use is to add the liquid in batches to let the rice absorb it before adding more. It takes time, but at the end your risotto will be rich and creamy without needing any butter, cream or parmesan, all common risotto ingredients.
My risotto recipe does use on less-common ingredient, nutritional yeast. If you will be preparing vegan recipes often nutritional yeast is definitely worth getting because it is a common add-on that mimics dairy. In the case of this risotto nutritional yeast acts as a substitute for parmesan cheese.
Healthy Asparagus Risotto
What you’ll need:
1 pound (500 g) green asparagus, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup medium grain or short grain rice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2-3 cups vegetable stock or water
Lemon zest, lemon juice (optional)
What you’ll do:
- Wash and trim the asparagus. I don’t peel it because I try to get spears that are thin and less woody, but if your asparagus is thick it will need peeling. Cut into approximately 1/2 in (1 to 1.5 cm) bits. You don’t need to be precise here but just think about what your final spoonful will look like and make sure your asparagus bits are small enough to be in harmony with the rice.
- Dice the onion into fine dice.
- Spray the bottom of a wide and shallow pan with cooking spray. Turn the heat to medium high. Add onions and cook until they soften and start to brown. This will take 4-5 minutes.
- Add asparagus and let cook for another 4-5 minutes with occasional stirring.
- Add the rice and stir well. Let cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Lower the heat down to medium low. Add 1 cup of liquid. Stir well and let the rice soak up the liquid. Give it time and repeat with more liquid. Risotto is definitely one of those dishes that people fear to approach and many articles and posts have been written about how to get to the perfect bowl of risotto and avoid mistakes. Fear not, because all you really need to do is hang around your pot, watch your rice and add the liquid when the rice tells you its thirsty. The amount of rice in this recipe can take anywhere between 2 and 4 cups of liquid. You also might want to start by adding one cup at a time for first 2 cups and then decrease to 1/4 cup of liquid at a time. Keep going until the rice is soft but not mushy, a shade softer than al dente.
- Turn the heat off and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Mix everything together and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with lemon zest and a dash of lemon juice just before serving!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017