Asparagus and Fava Bean Risotto

by angelika on May 24, 2011

Remember how I said last week that I love love love fava beans? And remember how just a few weeks before that I was going on about asparagus being my favorite spring vegetable? I wrote of how wonderful asparagus is in pasta with lemon cream sauce (made this again last week and it is still amazing), or just roasted with a bit of truffle butter. And let’s not forget about the asparagus brie soup. Spectacularly divine. That said, I have a new absolute favorite, and this time I mean it. 
Risotto is one of my top 5 favorite dishes. It just screams healthy comfort food to me. I love how creamy it is, how it’s a blank canvas for just about any combination of ingredients. It’s like the perfect backdrop to every seasonal masterpiece. Today the best of spring really brighten risotto, and give it a fresh from the garden perspective. If you only try one recipe from me, let it be this one. Especially if you love asparagus and fava beans like I do. 
Asparagus and Fava Bean Risotto
1 bunch of asparagus
2 pounds of fava beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable stock
finishing:
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste
(I used 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt)
1 tablespoon butter
Begin by shelling the beans and prepping the asparagus. I break the end off the asparagus where it naturally breaks, and discard the very bottom. Take half the bunch of asparagus and cut off the tips so you just have the flower. Set those aside as a garnish for the finished risotto. Dice the remainder of the asparagus about 1-2 inches long. 
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Use a pot that can hold 6 cups of liquid, as you will add the stock to this pot. Boil the fava beans for 3-4 minutes. 3 if the beans are small and 4 if they are bigger. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon and plunge them in cold water with ice in it. Drain the beans and then pierce the skins with your nail and gently press the beans from their skins. Discard the skins. Next boil the asparagus in the same water for 4 minutes, and plunge it into an ice bath as well. 
Take half the asparagus and half the fava beans and puree them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the pressed garlic clove. Set this aside. (try not to keep sneaking little tastes on a slice of bread) 

Into the pot that blanched the vegetables pour your vegetable stock and bring it to a simmer. In a larger pot melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Use more olive oil if your onion was large. Saute the onion until it is translucent. 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and saute until you see a brighter white center appear in the grain. 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and saute until the alcohol smell dissipates. About a minute. 
Add stock one ladleful at a time and stir until the stock is absorbed. My test for when to add more stock is running my spoon down the middle. If we parted the risotto sea, meaning there is a moat that the rice does not instantly flood, it is time to add more stock. Stir, stir and then stir some more. You don’t have to be chained to the stove during the process. I always prepare my sides while I stir, just making sure to give the risotto a few good stirs every minute or so. It usually takes 15 minutes of stirring and adding stock for the risotto to get to al dente. At 15 minutes taste a few grains, you want a touch of firmness in the center with no raw taste to it. 
When you have achieved al dente status, add one more ladle of stock and then toss the asparagus tips, the ones we set aside for garnish, into what is left of the stock. Let them cook for 4 minutes, then spoon them out- no need to blanche. 
Into the risotto, stir all of the bright green asparagus and fava bean puree. I can’t tell you what a difference this puree makes. I really allows the flavor of asparagus and fava bean to permeate the whole dish, and it give a brightness that really illustrates all that is glorious about spring. You get so much more depth of flavor than just adding the whole vegetables at the end. 

Gently stir in the asparagus and fava beans that you blanched earlier. Stir in the parmesan cheese and then salt. Always salt after the cheese goes in, parmesan is pretty salty.  I used 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt, but then salted my own serving liberally. I really like salt, and my husband usually gives me a hard time about it. So I concede and put less in the dish, acting like I am being thoughtful and health conscious. Then when no one is looking I sprinkle more on my serving. Shame on me, I know. 
Taste the dish one last time to make sure it has the right texture. I like my risotto with a little bite in the center, but with an overwhelming mouth feel of creaminess. If you find the risotto is too hard still, or too dry, stir in another ladleful of stock. When you decide it is perfect, add a tablespoon of butter and gently stir it in. Garnish with the a dusting a fresh parmesan, some cracked pepper and the beautiful asparagus tips. 
A votre santé!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SweetHome May 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Holy yumminess! I bet that asparagus/fava puree is amazing just on its own! I can't wait to try this tonight- I am also a huge fan of asparagus AND risotto.

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