The old adage states that the only constant in life is change.
After my better half and I decided it was time for a major change and moved to the east coast from Los Angeles, the biggest change we were excited to experience was the change in seasons.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but I can’t ever express enough how much I love the changes in season here. Recently the weather here has been bright, crisp and fresh – and the new spring vegetables, herbs and flowers are proof that warm days are approaching. We’ve had the chance to stop by a number of local farmers markets, and it’s just impossible to resist the incredible seasonal produce, including the gorgeous aromatic ramps and beautiful spears of asparagus, as well as all of the young crops of tender mushrooms just foraged locally.
Last week I was so excited at seeing all of the amazing new early crops, I went a little crazy and bought a huge bagful.
My only regret was that I bought only ONE bagful.
Confession: I had never purchased or cooked ramps until just a few weeks ago. In fact, I’m not sure they’re very well known or grown locally in SoCal, so I was a ramps-noob until my farmers market frenzy. But not anymore! I’m already counting down for next year’s season.
So I really wanted to savor the delicate crunchy asparagus and garlicky ramps, so I dug out my recipe for creamy risotto, and modified it just slightly by replacing the sautéed onions for sautéed ramps. It was the best decision of the week, and it made for the best romantic dinner on a warm spring evening.
The best way to celebrate and embrace change.
Spring Risotto with Asparagus, Ramps & Shiitake Mushrooms
- 6 1/2 c chicken stock
- 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/3 cups shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 lb fresh ramps, washed and diced including leaves (or 1 medium yellow onion, diced)
- 14 oz arborio rice
- 3/4 c dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1/2 lb asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- sea salt & black pepper to taste
- 1/4 c fresh parsley, rough chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 1/3 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Heat chicken stock in a large saucepan to a simmer, and keep on low to remain simmering.
2. In a large pan, add olive oil over medium-low heat. Add ramps and sautee for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly until they have softened and begin to turn translucent.
3. Stir rice into ramps and increase heat to medium-high. Add vermouth and stir constantly until vermouth has cooked away.
4. Turn heat back down to medium, and add one ladleful of broth to rice, stirring rice constantly until the broth has evaporated. Add the next ladleful of broth, and repeat stirring until it has evaporated. Continue repeating until all of the broth has been added, stirred and evaporated into the rice. It should take about 35-40 minutes total for all of the broth to be incorporated into the rice and for the risotto to cook. Also, don’t leave your rice alone – just keep stirring! Rice will become creamy and softer but al dente. Add pinch of salt and pepper and incorporate throughout risotto.
5. Remove risotto from heat. Stir butter and parmesan risotto. Check seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste if needed. Cover the risotto with a lid to keep warm and rest.
6. In a separate medium sized pan over medium heat, add mushrooms and asparagus, and sauté in dry pan until mushrooms have begun to release moisture and soften, for about 3-4 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds. Asparagus should still be bright green and have softened a bit, but still be crisp. Add parsley and lemon juice, and stir in to mix well. Remove vegetables from heat and seat aside.
7. Serve risotto with big spoonfuls of vegetables on top, and add a little more parmesan to taste.