300 gr Riso Gallo Carnaroli Rustico
30 gr Grana Padano cheesegrated
1 Onionfinely chopped
20 gr unsalted butter
1 l Vegetable Stock
100 ml Prosecco DOC
20 green asparagus
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 lemon’s zest
1 small bunch pea shootsor borage flower as garnish
Salt and pepperto taste
What is beyond risotto? I know it is a weird question to ask, but as a cook have you asked yourself what else can be prepared with great quality Italian grains instead of a classic risotto?
I want to introduce you to a lesser known Italian summer tradition: the rice salads. When the warm weather kicks in, it is advised to avoid buttery and cheesy risottos for lighter and easier options, which often can be eaten cold or on the go.
I still remember my mum bringing a bowl of pre-made rice salad on the beach during weekends while I was a child. Nowadays, it is normal to bring a rice salad to work and why not, pack with healthy vegetables too.
I have the chance to experiment with a large variety of grains purposely intended for salads. As an in between recipe to lean into this new category, I propose you the last risotto of this season using the semi brown Carnalori Rustico from sustainable agriculture by Riso Gallo. Still a classic risotto that winks at rice salads using a rustic grain that is actually amazing for both uses.
How to Prepare the Asparagus:
- Trim off the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks, the woody part.
- Cut off the tips and set aside to use as garnish.
- Chop the asparagus left and keep them for the risotto.
- Optionally, you can sauté a quarter of the asparagus in a warmed-up pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Add a pinch of salt and let it cook for 2 minutes.
- Blend well and add a splash of water if necessary.
- Keep this sort of asparagus sauce to enhance the flavor and creaminess of your risotto.
How to Make the Risotto:
- Gently fry the chopped onion in a small casserole with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 6/7 minutes on low heat until golden.
- In a large casserole, start to dry toast the rice on low heat with a pinch of salt, without adding oil or fat. In this way, the heat reaches the core of each rice grain resulting in a more uniform al dente rice.
- Keep stirring the rice occasionally, so the rice does not catch on the bottom of the pan or burn.
- When the rice is very hot, pour half a glass of Prosecco DOC in.
- Let the alcohol evaporate, set the cooking time to 16/17 minutes and add the simmering stock a ladle at a time, little by little. Remember, the risotto needs to always have a good simmer during the cooking time.
- Stir the rice every now and then, and make sure the rice is always covered with stock. Keep cooking and do not stir with too much energy as it could break the rice grains.
- When halfway through the cooking, add the cooked onion, the chopped asparagus and the puree.
- Once the time is up, taste the risotto and if you’re happy with the texture remove it from the heat. If you want the rice a little bit softer, cook for another minute.
- This step is called “mantecatura” to make the risotto creamier increasing its natural ooziness with the right gesture and movements. It is very important to carry out this step away from the heat as it could split the cheese and butter.
- Add the grated Grana Padano cheese and butter to the rice.
- Stir to incorporate extra air until the risotto is nice and creamy. At this stage I like to add an extra splash of Prosecco DOC and if the risotto dries up, you can still add a little bit of hot stock. Season to taste.
- Plate the hot risotto straight away. Season the asparagus tips and place them on top of the risotto.
- Optionally garnish with pea shots, borage flower and lemon zest.