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Zaftig's (Marie Louise to you) Aspara...

Jean_'s picture

2 cups of sliced shiitakes (that's about 6 oz.) and
1 lb. of asparagus for
1 cup of rice. Plus
1 cup of chopped onions.

The mushrooms are sauteed in a little oil, then removed and the risotto is made in a normal fashion. I'd always sauteed both the mushrooms and the asparagus together, then set them aside.

The part of this recipe that was so different and so good was this: Bend the asparagus and snap off the tough ends. The tough ends go into your stock to simmer while you prepare the mushrooms. The stock took on this wonderful asparagus taste that infused every grain of rice in a way that just putting asparagus pieces into the rice would not accomplish. The tender part of the asparagus is sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch pieces and added into the risotto, along with the cooked mushrooms, during the last 5 minutes of cooking. I used really fat asparagus, so wish I'd added it a little sooner than that.

This was SO good & I made enough to have leftovers for risotto cakes.

Can't wait to try this infusion trick with another vegetable!

Last but not least-I used these wonderful "spring onions". Can other people get these? They used to just be at Farmer's Markets but have popped up in the stores this year: they are fresh onions with their tops attached. Taste sort of like an amazingly good leek. I'm going to use them in everything until they disappear from the stores.

Marie-Louise_'s picture

(post #38188, reply #1 of 6)

After I posted this, someone asked for my basic risotto recipe, so here it is again:


*2 tbsp. minced shallots or 1/4 c. minced onions
*olive oil & butter
*2 1/2 – 3 cups stock (see note in cooking instructions)
*1 cup Arborio rice
*1/4 cup white wine
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer & keep the liquid hot.

In a saucier or sauté pan over medium heat, sauté onions in 1 tbsp. each butter & oil, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent & slightly golden–about 5–8 minutes.

Add the rice & stir constantly until all the rice is slightly translucent and a white spot appears in the center of the grain–about 3 minutes.

Turn up the heat, pour in the wine & stir until it is absorbed–about 2 minutes. Set the timer for 20 minutes now. The timer is only an approximate measure. The rice should only be cooked until it is tender but still chewy (firm to the bite or "al dente"), but never so long that it is soft in the center. (I don't do this anymore, but it's a great way to teach yourself the feel of how long to cook it)

Add just enough hot stock to cover the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat so it cooks "at a lively pace". Keep gently stirring the sides and bottom of the pot until the rice has incorporated all the broth. This should take about 3–4 minutes. Season w/ salt & pepper.

Continue to add the hot broth, little by little, stirring continuously until at least 2 cups of the broth has been absorbed & the rice is cooked, about 18–20 minutes in all. When I first posted this, a lot of people said that needed more stock. My advice is, be careful, especially if you’re using canned or salted stock. All the cookbooks I used said 2 1/2 to 3 cups stock, so I’d say, adjust the heat until it takes 20 minutes to absorb 3 cups of stock.

Hint: As the risotto nears completion, gradually reduce the amount of liquid you add at each time, so when it is fully cooked, it is only slightly moist–no liquid should be left unabsorbed at the end.

Stir in half of cheese and 1 more tbsp. butter & cook, stirring constantly, for 1–2 minutes. Take off the heat & salt to taste.

Serve immediately with fresh ground pepper & the remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

adapted from Cooks Magazine, Chez Panisse Vegetables, Williams–Sonoma Risotto, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, & The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Marie-Louise_'s picture

(post #38188, reply #2 of 6)

Here' s my final version of Tra Vigne's recipe:


Sauté 2 cups (about 6 oz.) shiitake or other fresh wild mushrooms, sliced into 1/4 inch slices and sprinkled w/ salt & pepper in 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until brown. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil. Snap the tough ends off 1 lb. thin asparagus. Place the tough ends into the stock and simmer until the stems are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Remove & discard the stems. Slice the tender spears into 1/4 inch diagonal pieces.

Make the master recipe, increasing the onion to 1 cup (use fresh spring onions if available.) When the risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms & asparagus. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in 1 tbsp. butter, 1/4 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #38188, reply #3 of 6)

Wonderful recipe. I changed it a bit though. Here are my variations:

*roasted my asparagus (added at the last minute just to heat through)
*added prosciutto (about 1/3 cup) which I sauteed after the mushrooms in the skillet and removed to the mushroom plate.
*increased rice to 1 1/2 cup
*used about 5 cups chicken stock ( never mentioned how much stock to use)
*used about 3/4 cups dry white wine as first addition of liquid
*used about 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano

I served this with Rosemary Focaccia and white wine. DH proclaimed it the best risotto I've ever made.

SandraM's picture

(post #38188, reply #4 of 6)

I just got sidetracked by a colleague who had to tell me about trying ML's risotto recipe (I passed it on to her last week for a dinner party.) She couldn't stop raving about how terrific it is. She's made it twice now - first as a stuffing for dolmades, served with a yogurt/cucumber sauce, and second as a main course for dinner with her SO -- she's tweaked it a bit (?) substituting a full litre of wine for the vegetable stock, then by subbing Danish Blue for the parmesan, and finally by adding some prawns.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #38188, reply #5 of 6)

i She's made it twice now - first as a stuffing for dolmades, served with a yogurt/cucumber sauce, and second as a main course for dinner with her SO -- she's tweaked it a bit (?) substituting a full litre of wine for the vegetable stock, then by subbing Danish Blue for the parmesan, and finally by adding some prawns

Sounds to me like she made a totally different risotto. Or was that the joke?

SandraM's picture

(post #38188, reply #6 of 6)

The hallmark of a really good recipe is that it stands up to an inventive cook. This one qualifies. I particularly liked the prawns/blue cheese tweaking.