Tender asparagus and fresh peas add spring freshness to this risotto. The rice’s slow-release starch (which helps to keep blood-sugar levels constant) makes this a perfect weekend lunch to fuel an afternoon in the sunshine.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves
300g fresh or frozen peas
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
25g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped (optional)
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
300g Arborio rice
75ml dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves
75g freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Put the asparagus and mint in a saucepan filled with boiling water for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, or until the asparagus softens. Remove from the pan and drain thoroughly, retaining the cooking water.
Using the warm asparagus water, heat the peas for a couple of minutes, until slightly cooked. Remove from the pan and drain.
Put the stock in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then cover and leave to simmer.
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan, then gently fry the bacon or pancetta, if using.
When the bacon has turned a light golden-brown colour, add the shallots, celery and garlic clove and cook until they have become soft and clear.
Add the rice and stir thoroughly, so that each grain of rice is warmed and coated with the pan juices.
Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed the wine.
Add a ladle of the stock to the rice pan and cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid, continuing this process until the stock has been used up and the rice grains are al dente (soft, but still retaining some bite). This should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the asparagus, mint and peas and warm through.
Season to taste with a little sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves and Pecorino cheese.