Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Mint

Last night, I had a huge bunch of fresh asparagus to use and our mint needed to be cut back before it encroached on the other herbs in the garden.  So I adapted a risotto recipe from Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipe Cookbook, using goat cheese instead of the traditional parmesan.

It was spectacular and tasted exactly like early summer.  I was very careful to add the asparagus as late as possible so it would be just barely cooked when the risotto was done.  Our first bowl was perfect.  The second bowl (no judgement please) was less so.  While the asparagus sat in the hot risotto, it continued to cook and become too tender.  So, if you decide to make this, cut the recipe in half or feed more people.  Or, feed the same amount of people who eat twice as much.  Your call.

– Catherine

Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Mint (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s New Best Recipe Cookbook)

3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick unsalted butter)

1 medium onion, diced fine

Salt

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

2 ounces goat cheese

1 pound asparagus

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

1. Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to keep the broth warm.

2. Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Once the foaming subsides, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and translucent, about 9 minutes.  Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges of the grains are transparent, about 4 minutes.  Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is completely absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes.  Add 3 cups of the warm broth and, stirring infrequently (about every 3 minutes), simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry, 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Add more of the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, as needed, to keep the pan bottom from becoming dry (every 3 to 4 minutes).  After 5 minutes, add the asparagus and continue stirring frequently, until the grains of rice are cooked through but still somewhat firm in the center, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the cheese, lemon zest and minced fresh mint leaves.

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