Asparagus risotto with roasted peppers
It’s not even the middle of May yet, and I think Stockholm might have had it’s warmest day of the year yesterday! I just couldn’t bring myself to cook anything when it was 80 F (27 C) outside, so I enjoyed some nice, cool, vegan sushi instead! Today I set my alarm to get up nice and early and made this delicious spring risotto, with asparagus and roasted peppers, before the sun started beating down on us again!
Even though that bright ole sun seems to think it’s summer already, I won’t be fooled – it’s spring time! And asparagus just might be my favorite spring vegetable. So, when I saw these large spears of asparagus at the grocery store, I knew I was going to have make a mean green, spring risotto.
I always think it’s a waste to throw away so much of the asparagus stalks and I can never quite decide where to cut the tips and how big to cut the pieces, either. (If this is one of the biggest problems you have, I guess you can count yourself lucky!) So, for this recipe I decided to chop up some pieces of the asparagus stalks and use them to make a bullion.
While I’m so fortunate to have a fantastic variety of plant-based cheeses available to me, I wanted to make the risotto without resorting to that kind of “cheating.” What I used instead was a mix of nutritional yeast and hemp hearts. If you’re like me, you put nutritional yeast (or “nooch” as it’s affectionately called) on everything! And I do mean anything – well, OK, maybe not dessert, but I will sprinkle that stuff on everything from salads to pasta – it’s that dang tasty!
Hemp hearts, raw, shelled hemp seeds, are a great complement to nooch and might be even more nutritional. In fact, they are said to be the most concentrated and balanced source of proteins, healthy fats and vitamins, that nature has to offer! How’s that for nutritional?!
While this recipe isn’t difficult, it does require you to be good at juggling pots and pans and timing things well. If you want to cut corners, you can always use already roasted peppers. But since I was up and working before the sun hit it’s zenith today, I took the time to roast some myself. If you choose not to, I promise not to tell anyone!
Served with a salad and some bread, this should feed 4 people. Or why not bring it along to a buffet or potluck dinner and let your friends taste some amazing asparagus risotto with roasted peppers!
- 2 bell peppers (1 red + 1 yellow) – roasted
- 4 oz (ca 110 g) – asparagus stems, chopped
- 1 quart (ca 9 dl) – water
- 1½ Tbsp (22.5 ml) – vegetable stock
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) – white cooking wine
- 1 tsp (5 ml) - agave/rice syrup*
- Plant-based butter
- 2 small garlic cloves – minced
- 2 large, bulbous spring onions – chopped
- 4 oz (ca 110 g) – mushrooms, chopped
- 1½ cups (3.5 dl) – risotto rice (Carnaroli, Arborio, Avorio etc.)*
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – hemp hearts (raw, shelled hemp seed)
- 8 oz (ca 225 g) – asparagus tips, chopped
- 2 oz (55 g) – pine nuts, roasted
- Optional - plant-based parmesan*
- Start by roasting the two bell peppers so that they are ready when the risotto is done. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Slice each pepper in half, remove the seeds and clean. Place the pepper halves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or foil. Cook for 20 minutes, flip over and cook for 20 more minutes. The peppers should have black charred spots on them and be soft. Use tongs to drop the pepper halves into a plastic bag, seal the bag and allow to cool. Continue later with Step 6.
- Pour 1 quart of water into a pot and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, snap your asparagus into pieces, saving the upper part and spears for later. Collect 4 oz (110 g) of asparagus stalks, using the parts of the stalk just above and/or below where they broke. Chop these into small pieces and add them to the boiling water.
- Add the vegetable stock, white cooking wine and agave or rice syrup to the water and boil everything for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a wand mixer or blender to mix the softened asparagus into the liquid. Put aside.
- Melt some butter in a large pot on medium heat, add one clove of garlic, the spring onions and mushrooms, and stir while cooking for a few minutes. Add the risotto rice and again stir while it cooks for a couple more minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, and add about ¼ to ⅓ of the asparagus bullion water that you made earlier. Keep your eye on the risotto, stirring occasionally and gradually adding more bullion water.
- While the risotto is cooking, peel off the skin from the cooled peppers and slice them into smaller chunks, dry roast the pine nuts until golden brown, and sauté the asparagus tips and second clove of garlic with plant-based butter for about 5- 7 minutes.
- When the risotto is done (it should be tender and the majority of the water absorbed) stir in the nutritional yeast and hemp hearts, followed by the asparagus tips and peppers. Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the roasted pine nuts on top.
*Whenever I use cooking wine, I always add a small amount of sweetness to even out the vinegar/acidity. This is a matter of taste and depends, of course, on what kind of cooking wine you use.
*Different risotto rices require different types of care and cooking times/techniques. Plan on cooking the rice for at least 20 minutes, and maybe up to 40.
*If Parmesan style plant-based cheese is available where you live, shave several slices and use them to garnish your finished risotto masterpiece!