Asparagus season in full swing now. Green asparagus is a well-loved vegetable, delectably crisp and sweet. It’s time to enjoy it!
This simple springtime risotto is bright and elegant with a tint of apple from Calvados. It has a rich taste and creamy texture without adding any cream and dairy products. The main secret of this dish is a combination of celeriac and soaked cashew.
This veggie looks like a monster but actually is very underrated. Celeriac has delicately aromatic taste and great ability to soak up other flavors. When cooked it can take on a very smooth velvety texture.
A few tips that can help you to make perfect risotto:
- Choose the right rice, starchy grains, which blend wonderfully with every ingredient and produce a luscious creaminess. Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano are the main varieties of risotto rice to have at hand.
- No need to wash arborio rice before cooking – the extra starch creates the essential creamy texture.
- Don’t forget about olive oil, white wine, and good quality vegetable stock, this is key ingredients for rich taste
- A good risotto should have an almost soupy consistency and be served in a shallow bowl – if you run a spoon through it there should be enough fluidity for it to flow back and cover the spoon-track. Always make sure you added enough stock.
- Serve risotto immediately. Do not let it sit for too long, as it will continue to absorb the liquid and get a bit clumpier.
- 1 Cup arborio rice
- 1 Celeriac tuber
- 1/2 Cup soaked cashew nuts (soak it for about few hours), drained
- 1 Leek (white part only), finely chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
- Splash of Cooking Calvados or white wine
- Bunch of asparagus
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Cup frozen baby peas, thawed
- About 2 L of vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Fresh basil for garnish
For Vegetable Stock:
- 1 Big carrot
- 1 Parsnip
- 2 Onions
- 2-3 Mushrooms
- 1 Leek (green part only)
- Few sprigs of thyme and parsley
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3 Celery sticks
- 5 Black Peppercorns
- 3 Allspice peppercorns
- Vegetable stock. Put all ingredients for vegetable stock in the saucepan about 2L capacity. You don’t even need to peel them. Fill the saucepan with water and bring to boil then reduce the heat to very low and cook for about 30-40 minutes. Low temperature and light boiling are enough to infuse the water with vegetable aromas. Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer. Keep the stock hot.
- Wash the asparagus and remove hard ends. Put asparagus spears into a steamer or colander set over a pan of boiling water. Cover with a lid and steam for 2-3 mins or until crisp-tender. It`s very important to keep green color and vitamins. Place asparagus in the water with ice to stop cooking process. Drain the water and chop asparagus diagonally.
- Peel the celeriac, cut into chunks and cover with cold water to prevent darkening. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook half garlic and leek until translucent but not colored. Add peeled and cubed celeriac to the pan, cover with vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 mins until the celeriac is very soft.
- Transfer vegetables into a high-speed blender, add cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Process until very smooth.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottom stainless steel saute pan (my fav kind of the pan for risotto), then gently cook another half of garlic and leek until translucent. Add arborio rice and cook about one minute. No need to wash arborio rice before cooking – the extra starch creates the essential creamy texture. Add a splash of white wine. I added apple brandy – Calvados, I love so much its apple aroma that perfectly fit for this risotto recipe. Сook until the alcohol is evaporated.
- Add the cup of boiling vegetable stock. Mix well and cook at a low temperature till all liquid is almost absorbed. Add another one cup of stock and repeat 3-4 times until rice will be ready. As it cooks, you’ll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches. When you get close to the end of the estimated cooking time, taste the rice. If it is ready, it should have a nice al dente bite. If it is undercooked, it will have a stiff center. Bite and observe the rice. The internal white small spot in the rice grain is al dente. A good risotto should have an almost soupy consistency and be served in a shallow bowl – if you run a spoon through it there should be enough fluidity for it to flow back and cover the spoon-track. Always make sure you added enough stock.
- Add green peas. Season to taste and stir in the risotto rich and creamy сeleriac sauce. Cook for about few minutes.
- Serve risotto immediately with plenty of nice and crunchy asparagus. Do not let it sit for too long, as it will continue to absorb the liquid and get a bit clumpier.