Monday, 10 May 2010

Meat-Free Monday - Asparagus Orzotto

There are times when this whole business of trying to eat seasonally and locally is a bit of a chore. Remember the endless, pink-stained days of beetroot? But finally the seasons turn and I can get excited about vegetables again. And this really is the most brilliant time of year to be eating vegetables in England - the asparagus is coming in for its brief, glorious season and broad beans are right around the corner. There are spring greens, the last of the purple sprouting broccoli, new potatoes and all is well with the world.

Last week, some lovely fat asparagus appeared in my vegetable box. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of it for us to gorge on with eggs or hollandaise sauce, so I decided that I had to pad it out with a goodly amount of starch. I was thinking about risotto. I was thinking about a pasta dish. And then I decided to see if lovely, plump, barley-shaped orzo pasta Iknown in our house as torpedoes) could be treated like a risotto. Guess what? It can.

I started as per normal rice risotto - with a good knob of butter, and a finely diced onion sweating in it. I added my orzo, but didn't toast it for as long as I would rice, just turning it over in the butter to get a good coating, then I added about 1/4 cup of wine (I used a nice chablis). I stirred in the sliced stalks of the asparagus, reserving the spears for the end, and added half the stock and gave it a good stir. At this point, I put the lid on, rather than adding the stock little by little and continuing to stir, because orzo overcooks in the blink of an eye, and I didn't want it pureed. After 7 or 8 minutes, I added the rest of the stock and the aspargus spears and continued to cook it, covered and stirring occasionally, for another couple of minutes until the pasta was tender. At the end, I added butter and grated parmesan, and seasoned with a little salt and quite a lot of black pepper. It was creamy and delicious! The perfect delivery system for the beautiful fresh asparagus.

16 comments:

grace said...

did you make up that word? i love it. orzotto. i think that's what i'll name my next pet. :)
great dish, foodycat--it's a really unique and tasty way to savor your asparagus!

Joanne said...

It's definitely a LOT easier to eat seasonally when things are actually in season!

I love orzotto...never had it with asparagus but now I am going to have to!

Foodycat said...

Grace - strictly speaking, an orzotto is a barley risotto, I believe! But it'd be a great name for a cat.

Joanne - So true! Seasonal eating when it's all cabbage is very tricky.

Johanna said...

Orzotto has been a big trend in Greece for a while now. Try it with seafood too, it is lovely!

Rachel said...

Asparagus decadence. Delicious!

Foodycat said...

Johanna - a seafood version sounds like a wonderful idea!

Rachel - thank you, it was!

Esi said...

You know I love my asparagus. This sounds wonderful

kat said...

I hear you with the eating locally & seasonally thing. I'm so glad its finally asparagus, ramp, spinach & morel season here in the great white north.

Heather said...

When I first started getting really serious about cooking, I thought orzo was arborio rice and the only way I cooked it was in these laborious risotto-like pilafs.

Now that I know a thing or two, I love using different grains instead of arborio rice, and this is one I'd love to try! I think I even have a jar of barley in the cupboard.

Barbara said...

Bought some lovely asparagus this week! Can't think of a better way to use it AND my bottle of chablis!

mscrankypants said...

^ Where does Barbara live? I should like to dine with Barbara and share the asparagus and chianti! I'll bring dessert :-)

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Oh, lucky you moving into spring...heading right into winter here :)

This sounds so delicious - I have a risoni in my cupboard so might have to give it a go as a risotto.

Foodycat said...

Esi - asparagus is my favourite vegetable, I think!

Kat - we don't seem to get a morel season. I am jealous!

Heather - actually, I have some barley too! I always think of barley as a winter thing.

Barbara - enjoy!

Cranky - I agree, let's all go to Barbara's house!

Laura - risoni is the same as orzo, isn't it? Give it a go!

Dharm said...

This does look good. My wife is kind of getting off meat now. She'll eat it but not as mch as she used to. Maybe this is something I should make!

Debinhawaii said...

Mmm...this looks so creamy and good--I love asparagus. ;-)

Foodycat said...

Dharm - I think she'd like it! Although you are so spoilt with lovely vegetarian Malay Indian dishes I don't know that you'll ever get around to it!

Deb - it was really delicious.

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