Risotto with Preserved Lemon and Asparagus

  • 12 oz fresh asparagus
  • 6-8 cups of water or light vegetable broth
  • 3 TB unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1/4 cup preserved lemon rind, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup chives or ramps, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto rice
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Coarse salt

This bright risotto hits all the right notes with the perfect amounts of creamy, crunchy, zingy, and earthy!  Perfect for springtime with fresh, local asparagus and ramps, it can also be made later in the year using chives instead of ramps.

Prepare asparagus by cutting off the woody end and peeling the bottom few inches with a vegetable peeler. Cut the stalk in 1/4 inch pieces, leaving the tip whole. Set aside. Heat the water or broth to a simmer in a saucepan; keep at a gentle simmer. Melt 2TB butter in a large wide saucepan. Add the rice and stir about 2 minutes until the rice is coated, then add the wine (or substitute equal amount water/broth) and heat, stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth or water. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Add remaining liquid 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed after each addition until the risotto is creamy and the rice is tender yet al dente in the center, 20-25 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the asparagus, chives or ramps and preserved lemon. Add the remaining 1 TB of butter and the cheese. Stir quickly for about 30 seconds. Taste for salt. Let stand a few minutes before serving.