The vagarities of Spring
Spring is here with its fickle weather. It’s the time of the year that shouts out to you from its blue sky that it’s beautifully sunny so that you pull that light clothing out from the back of your wardrobe where it has been hibernating for the Winter. You strap on some light sandals as well, and say to yourself that it will be silly to take a pullover as you’ll just end up carrying it rather than wearing it. Once you are too far from the house to change, Spring magics up a seething mass of storm clouds from nowhere to pour some rain on you. Just in case you were starting to get complacent.
One of the positive sides of Spring, aside from flowers popping up everywhere, bees buzzing around, and trees turning into a mass of bright green, is the asparagus that starts appearing in the shops. I’ve told you about the late beginning of my love affair with asparagus when I started working in Germany in a town next to Schwetzingen which proclaims itself “the world asparagus capital”. I tasted asparagus for the first time and was hooked! This year, at the market, I was delighted to find a wild asparagus (the thin ones in the photo above) as well as the regular green ones. I have been told that I can go out and pick it myself but I’m always scared of picking plants in the wild and then poisoning everyone (I think that’s a fear I gained after reading and seeing “Into The Wild“), so I’ll just go ahead and let someone else do the gathering and then sell it to me.
The perfect dish to make with these two types of asparagus was risotto. If you can find it, get some of the purple asparagus and some white (yes it comes in rainbow colours!) to make the dish really pretty.
Travel Photo Of The Week
Nothing says Spring more on the Cote d’Azur than finding all the blue chairs by the sea in Nice full of people enjoying the balmy breeze and the beach view. At this time of the year, you can often tell who the locals are as they are still wearing vests or jackets, while the tourists are already sporting Summer clothing.
by Lisa Watson
Risotto with asparagus
- 4 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 Onion
- 500 g Asparagus 1.1 lb
- 125 ml White wine 3/4 cup
- 1 Vegetable Stock Cube 2L/ 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp Salt
- 40 g Grated Parmesan Cheese + more to taste
- White pepper to taste
- Heat the stock, or the stock cube in water in a pot on the stove until it is simmering.
- While the stock is heating, finely chop the onion and peel the stalks of the asparagus if woody, then chop the asparagus into short lengths of about 3 cm ( 1 inch).
- Heat the olive oil in a different large, heavy-based pot. Saute the onion until it becomes translucent.
- Add the rice and stir until it browns slightly.
- Add the chopped asparagus and stir in.
- Add the white wine and let it boil off.
- Pour in enough heated stock to cover the rice mixture. and put the timer on for 13 minutes.
- Add the salt and stir in.
- As the rice is cooking, watch the level of the water. As it goes down, add stock from the simmering pot, one ladle-full (or cupful) at a time. Stir the rice often.
- As the time gets to around 12 minutes, start tasting the rice to see how done it is. The type of rice you have may vary the cooking times. If it’s close to being cooked, don’t add any more stock and let the water in the rice boil off, stirring frequently.
- Just before you take the risotto off the heat, add the Parmesan cheese and stir it in.
- Sprinkle with white pepper and serve.