Perfect spring risotto recipe

‘Blanche Vaughan is a new voice in cookery writing. With a pedigree curriculum that includes stints at the River Café, Moro, St John’s and Chez Panisse, she has the type of palate that lesser mortals can only envy. In her first solo cookbook, she has produced a wonderfully simple, but inviting selection of recipes that can all be thrown together in one pot-perfect for the time-poor cook, but sophisticated enough to tempt the most ardent of foodies. This recipe is a nod towards the coming spring, so tantalisingly close around the corner. Keep it for when the first shoots of asparagus hit the shops and then bask in the delights of the British kitchen garden. Happy cooking’

Thomasina Miers

Risotto with asparagus, peas and lemon

Extract from Blanche Vaughan’s In One Pot: Fresh Recipes for Every Occasion Published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson

This is one of the most freshly flavoured risottos to cook in spring or early summer, when asparagus and peas come into season. Always use the fresh-est vegetables you can find. Broad beans, courgettes and baby artichokes are all delicious alternatives.

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40g unsalted butter
1 red onion, finely diced
200g risotto rice
100ml white wine
1 litre hot chicken stock
300g asparagus, cut into
short lengths
300g peas, podded
20g bunch each of mint,
parsley, basil and oregano,
Zest of half lemon
25g Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper

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In a heavy-based pan, melt half of the butter over a medium heat. Add the onion and a little salt and fry gently for 5-10 minutes, or until it is soft and sweet, but not coloured. Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice in the butter.

Pour in the wine so that it all sizzles and allow it to bubble for a couple of minutes, stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Then add a ladleful of stock, stirring occasionally until it is almost all absorbed before you add the next one. After the first couple of ladles, add the asparagus and season everything well.

Keep adding stock (a ladleful at a time) and stir. After 10 minutes or so, once the asparagus starts to become tender, add the peas. After 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat and the size of your pot, the risotto will look creamy, but the rice will still have a little bite, without feeling chalky inside. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t added all the stock, but it’s important the rice has the right creamy consistency-not too wet but not stodgy, either.

Turn off the heat and add the herbs and lemon zest, the rest of the butter, grate over the Parmesan and stir well. Check the seasoning and leave it to sit for a minute to settle before serving.

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