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Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto

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Risotto making is a process that requires patience. But it’s a gentle, easy, fun kind of patience. Some people might not enjoy stirring a pot of rice almost constantly for nearly 25 minutes. I do, even thinking of myself as a person who is not very patient. 

For me, risotto is a dish that brings people together around the stove. The wooden spoon can be passed through different hands, while everyone sips on wine and watch the grains of Arborio swell. The scents coming from the pan intensify as wine and broth are added. It’s such fun to share with loved ones.

Risotto is one of my favorite Italian dishes and, being a stubborn Brazilian with an appetite for twists, I could not help but add some not so traditional moves to the dish. For example, if risotto is made the proper way, Italians do not add any butter or cream at the end. Well, I still do. Just because I love it.

Risotto is quite a versatile recipe too. It can be turned into a very rich course, like a four-cheese risotto. Or it can be made into an earthy dish, like a mushroom risotto. Or it can be a perfect recipe for spring, like this Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto – which also gets a touch of lemon juice and lemon zest. This risotto is light, yet satisfying. I make this recipe at least once a year, sometimes more. It’s a family affair for us – it was my sweet sister who taught me this one and we love to cook risotto together!

Enjoy with a crispy white. Happy Spring!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 sticks of butter, divided
  • 3 cups asparagus, cut into 1 ½ - inch slices, dry ends discarded
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 10 ounces large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

In large pot, bring vegetable broth to a simmer over medium heat. Than, reduce heat to low to keep it hot. 

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the asparagus. Cook stirring occasionally until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and gently mix the lemon juice. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Sauté until it curls and turns pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons) on medium heat; when it starts to bubble add onion. Cook, stirring occasionaly, until onions are tender; 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is shiny and well coated, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates almost completely. Turn heat down to low and add ½ to 1 ladle of vegetable broth, stirring constantly while it cooks. When the liquid has almost completely evaporated, add another ½ to 1 ladle of broth and keep stirring it nearly constantly until liquid has almost completely evaporated. Repeat the process until the rice is al dente – soft on the outside but kind of resistant to the bite in the inside. The process should take about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and season with salt and black pepper. Fold in asparagus, shrimp, lemon zest, parsley, and remaining butter. Serve it immediately.

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Cook’s Notes:

Use a very good quality vegetable broth, or preferably, make it from scratch. I used organic, low-sodium vegetable broth from the brand Imagine. It was great!

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