Archive | Asparagus RSS feed for this section

Risotto with Spring Vegetables

27 Apr

2 cups shelled fava beans (about 1 1/2 pounds unshelled)
1/2 cup fresh green peas
4 cups chicken or veggie stock2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/2 cup white wine
8 ounces thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Remove tough outer skins from beans; discard skins. Cook peas in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
2. Bring Homemade Chicken Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and carrot to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice and saffron; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in fava beans, peas, and asparagus with last addition of stock. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.

David Bonom, Cooking Light, May 2010

This risotto is absolutely perfect for those cool, rainy April days we’ve been having in Chicago.  It incorporates plenty of early-spring produce that’s now popping up in local farmers markets, including asparagus, carrots, fava beans, onion and peas.  The white wine and saffron enhance these fresh veggies and the Parmesan adds a nice floral zing.

In case you’re new to the wonderful world of fava beans, as many Americans are, here is a little background.  Fava beans are one of the oldest beans around, originating approximately 3000 BC.  They’ve been a staple in Europe and Asia for centuries, but have remained fairly obscure in the U.S.  As such, there are a little overpriced in our markets, but still doable.  I’ve also found a newfound love of cooking with fava beans because they are so satisfying to shell; the beans are big enough that they don’t get lost in the process and they pop out really easily.  They have a buttery and slightly bitter taste and add quite a bit of texture to this and any other dish.

This is a great weeknight meal but, as with any risotto, be prepared to spend some time hovering over the warm stove.  I’m a major wimp compared those strong Italian women and after cooking risotto my arm is always tired and I’m hot as hell.  No worries, there will be cold white wine at hand.

Mushroom-Asparagus Strata

31 Dec

  • 8 oz.  asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 cups  French bread cubes
  • 2 cups  shredded Gruyére or white cheddar cheese, (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup  chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup  chopped chives or green onions
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups  milk

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add asparagus; cook 5 minutes or until bright green.

2. In a greased 3-quart baking dish spread half the bread cubes. Top with cheese, onion, chives and half the mushrooms and asparagus. Top with remaining bread.

3. In a bowl whisk together four of the eggs and the milk. Evenly pour over layers in dish. Press down bread pieces into the egg milk mixture with the back of a spoon. Top with remaining mushrooms and asparagus. Cover; refrigerate until ready to bake.

4. Bake, uncovered, in a 325 degrees F oven 30 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon, press 6 indentations in top of strata. Pour a whole egg into each indentation. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of strata registers 170 degrees F and eggs are set. Let stand 15 minutes.

5. Cut into squares to serve. If desired, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Better Homes & Gardens, December 2010

This was originally a Ham-Asparagus Strata, but I substituted mushrooms for ham since I personally don’t eat much of the stuff.  If you like meat in your breakfast, use 8 oz. ham instead of the 8 oz. mushrooms.  I made this to celebrate the new year – mixed it up last night and popped it in the oven this morning.  The pictures say it all.  Perfect way to start the holiday.

Happy New Year!

Simple Roasted Asparagus

30 Dec

One bunch of asparagus

1/4 – 1/2 medium red onion, sliced

1-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the bottom 1-2 inches off of each asparagus stem.  This part tends to be tough and impossible to chew.  Lay the asparagus stems in a roasting or baking pan.  Spread onions and garlic on top of the asparagus.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.  Roast between 7-10 minutes or until asparagus reaches the desired texture (I prefer it a little crispier, my boyfriend like it very tender – all a matter of personal preference).

Asparagus is one of my favorite side dishes because it is one of the heartier greens, pairs nicely many different flavors and dishes and cooks both quickly and easily.  This is my favorite way to cook it – nice and simple – but my friend, Carin has also roasted them with pine nuts, blue cheese and balsamic vinegar and my mom likes to roast them with grated Parmesan and garlic salt.  The possibilities are endless – so have some fun, experiment until you find a combination that you like.