More pointed comments

I remain obsessed with asparagus. I found a purple variety at the State Farmers Market the other day. I’ve cooked purple asparagus before, and if you don’t overcook it – which you should never, ever do to asparagus unless you’re looking for slimy vegetable paste – it retains its color.

I decided to adapt a risotto recipe from Barbara Kafka to use the asparagus, which would go with the roast chicken I had in the oven. Afterwards, I was reminded why I seldom make risotto – my wrist is still fatigued from stirring. But it tasted great.

Spring Asparagus Risotto

2 cups fresh spinach

4 tablespoons fresh parsley

4 spring onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup arborio rice

1/4 cup olive oil

4 to 5 cups chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Put the spinach, parsley and onions in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Put in the rice, and saute, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the chicken stock a little at a time, continuing to stir without ceasing. Add more only when the liquid has been absorbed. Cook for 15 minutes, still stirring. Stir in the asparagus and the spinach mixture. Add more liquid if needed. Continue to cook and stir until the asparagus is cooked but still firm, only a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat to prevent sticking.

Serves about 4 as a side dish but could also be a main dish.

This just in, thanks to The Hub: Using a bread machine to make risotto here.


Green grow the spears

I have an intense relationship with asparagus. It’s in my kitchen nearly constantly for the scant few weeks that I can find it. Grilled or oven-roasted, with only a little olive oil and salt, that’s perfection. But I do seek change occasionally. On Sunday, I made super-simple cold marinated asparagus.

First, be sure to steam or boil the asparagus only until it’s bright green. Go any farther, and you’ll have limp mush. This will take mere minutes. The dressing started with olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of white wine vinegar. I added about a half teaspoon of dried lemon peel (you could use freshly grated lemon zest, but I had the dried on hand and it was quick) and generous shakes of a dried-herb seasoning blend that contains chives, basil, tarragon and dill, plus salt and pepper. I toasted about a tablespoon of sesame seeds and chopped up two green onions. While the cooked asparagus (asparagi?) was still warm, I tossed it with the dressing and sprinkled on the onions and sesame seeds. I chilled the mixture for a couple of hours and served it cold.

I will say it again, if you’re using asparagus in a cold salad or marinating it, do not overcook it. Even a little undercooked is OK. I was thinking a cold rice salad with asparagus might be nice, maybe with red bell peppers and Asian touches, like sesame oil.