Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ramp and asparagus risotto

It's spring! That means the farmers' markets are no longer merely venues for people who believe in the food movement to take arty shots of the one turnip they've found in the whole place, but actually places to buy more than one ingredient, where people looking to shop for groceries might consider bringing their canvas totes. Excitement!

But I wasn't so sure what to do with ramps, which are, along with asparagus, the available vegetable of the moment. I tried the standard chop it up, saute in olive oil, and put on top of pasta, which worked fine, but decided to go for something more ambitious last night: ramp and asparagus risotto. Since it turned out kind of amazing, here's how I went about it:

First, I used this recipe for asparagus risotto to get a sense of proportions, but strayed in several ways. One, I used sticky rice, because that's what I had. Next, rather than chopping and sauteing shallots in butter, I used the white bulbs and reddish stalks of the ramps and heated those in a mix of butter and olive oil. Then, for chicken stock, I did not heat this ahead of time, and used a good amount less than this recipe indicates (I used a 32-oz box of the Whole Foods variety for a little over a cup of uncooked rice). I just kept the box in the fridge, pouring in a bit more whenever it seemed necessary.

Once I'd gotten the mixture to a consistency that seemed like risotto (a mystery, since I'm not sure if I've ever eaten this in a restaurant), I added in chopped ramp leaves, then the chopped (raw) asparagus, along with some lemon juice that I think made absolutely no difference to the final result. When the whole thing was done, I grated and mixed in a mountain of Parmesan. I did add pepper, but it didn't really need salt or ricotta salata. Anyway, highly recommended!

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