If you’re looking for something a little different from your everyday boring side dish this Asparagus Risotto with Hazle Nuts and Farro is just the ticket.
2 lbs. asparagus
4 to 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced finely to yield a cup
1 cup semi-pearled farro or arborio or carnaroli rice
½ cup dry white wine or prosecco
1 heaping tsp. kosher salt
½ to ¾ cup (or more or less to taste) grated Kosher Parmigiano Reggiano
½ cup toasted, Farm Fresh Nuts Dry Roasted Pine Nuts / Pignolias Unsalted
¼ to 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, optional
Prep the asparagus. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Trim off the asparagus tips and set aside. Divide the stalks into two equal portions. Coarsely chop one portion—this is going to get boiled and puréed. Chop the remaining portion into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices and set aside with the tips. Boil the coarsely chopped asparagus stalks until soft, about five minutes. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the stalks from the pot and transfer to a colander. Rinse quickly under cold water or put in ice water; then drain and transfer the asparagus to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Set aside. Boil the asparagus tips and thinly sliced stalks for 2 minutes more; then use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the asparagus pieces from the pot and transfer to a colander. Rinse quickly under cold water or put in ice water. You can use the pot of asparagus-cooking water as your risotto making liquid if you wish.
Make the risotto: Put stock or water in a medium saucepan over low heat. (If you are using the asparagus water, there’s no need to do this.) Put butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally until it softens, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add farro or rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine or prosecco, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add the salt. Add warmed stock (or asparagus water) ½ cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.
After 30 minutes, begin tasting the risotto. You want the grains to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 45 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the asparagus purée and the remaining pieces of asparagus, being sure to drain the asparagus pieces first.
Stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat, add cheese, hazelnuts (if using), and parsley (if using). Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.