It’s that time of the year, when the days are longer and life has a sunnier disposition. Yes, it is spring in Chicago, the outdoor patios are open and festivals are beginning to appear in the horizon. Even better, now is the time to begin to enjoy as many seasonal vegetables as possible, because when they’re gone, we’re left with product from Chile or Mexico rather than Indiana and Wisconsin.
I have been gorging myself on asparagus, which has a very small time frame to enjoy at its peak. I have also featured asparagus at a youth shelter where I teach cooking skills and with my girlfriend at a low income apartment for senior citizens; asparagus was a big hit for both demographics. Peas are also at their best in the spring, though admittedly more available through frozen alternatives in other seasons. As always, season throughout and to taste before serving. Salt brings out the natural flavors when used throughout the process and the flavors in this are pure and delicious. It is a simple risotto, but a homemade vegetable broth makes a world of difference. Now stop reading this blog, take a walk to your local grocery store to enjoy the outdoors, and feast on some seasonal produce!
Vegan Asparagus & Pea Risotto – serves 2-3
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 3/4 cup sweet white wine
- 4 cups homemade vegetable broth
- 1/2 bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut into thirds
- 1 cup peas
- 1 small onion, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- parsley, for garnish
- freshly grated Parmesan, for the non-vegans
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- lemon, for juice
Heat vegetable broth on low heat. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat, add onions and cook til softened, but not caramelized, for about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and rice, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minute to toast the rice. Add the wine, stirring constantly on medium low heat. When wine is almost totally absorbed, add 1 cup vegetable stock, stirring frequently. Add 3/4 cup of broth at a time as the broth is absorbed. After 15 minutes, add the asparagus. When the rice is almost cooked to al dente, add the peas for the last 2 minutes. Mix in 1 tbsp olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice, garnish w/parsley, and serve.