Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At Market...Asparagus

So, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty into this whole spring thing. The rains in Southern California seem to be over for the most part, leaving in their wake lots of green grass and one heck of a happy garden. The tomatoes have suffered a bit, I'm sad to say. But who gets tomatoes in March anyway? (We do....shhh). But other than that, signs of happy, healthy life are everywhere!

Fortunately, I love, love, love spring produce! I love asparagus, fresh herbs and peas. I love strawberries, sweet baby lettuces, pea shoots and squash blossoms. And the farmers' market in these parts is full to the brim with offerings....but not so much with people. Where are you guys? It's too beautiful to shop indoors!! It's too beautiful to eat indoors! It's too beautiful to be indoors, really. And with Daylight Saving Time, it's so light out so late....makes me itch for summer.

Now back to the produce--even my kids (okay, the two that actually eat) happen to love asparagus, especially when it's roasted and wrapped with salty prosciutto. What's not to love? (Except the pork, if you don't eat it.) But even without the pork, I am a firm believer that asparagus was made to be roasted or grilled. The high heat brings out its very best flavors and adds a bit of delicious char.

The other night we enjoyed the bacon bundled spears atop a bed of mushroom mock risotto. Mock risotto you ask? I was too lazy to make real risotto, so I dumped all the water in with the rice at once. I simmered it for awhile, stirring occasionally, and it turned out perfectly, which was a revelation to me....too easy and too tasty to be true. It was dinner for two, on a rare evening where the house was empty midweek....Seems that sports practices can be good for the adults in the family too. But if you can't get rid of your kids for the evening, the recipe can be easily doubled.

Mock Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus Spears

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: serves 2 (can be easily doubled)


10 asparagus spears, rinsed and trimmed
5 slices of prosciutto, halved length-wise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of arborio or other short grain rice (or grain mix...I used a mixture of arborio, spelt and barley available at Trader Joe's)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
shaved Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wrap each asparagus spear with 1/2 slice of prosciutto, put on a baking sheet and set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden around the edges. Stir in garlic and cook one minute more. Remove mushroom mixture from the pot and set aside.

4. Return pot to the stove and add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover rice and stir in mushroom mixture. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10-15 more minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

5. While rice is cooking place asparagus in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and prosciutto is crisp.

6. Spoon risotto out onto two plates and top with the roasted asparagus spears and shaved Parmesan cheese.


Unknown said...

I have all the ingredients at home, except prosciutto! I wonder if regular American pork or turkey bacon would taste delish as well? I'll have to give it a try.

Fake risotto is one of my favorite dishes to whip up. I use chicken stock, though.

Thanks for the recipe. My husband will be verrry happy!

Alison said...


I would definitely try regular or turkey bacon. They would impart a smoky flavor that prosciutto doesn't have, but would be delicious with the mushrooms.

All the Best,

Alissa said...

These pictures are divine. I'm a huge asparagus fan! I love your site. It's lovely to see someone exposing the beauty of what comes out of the ground in such a nice way. Love your blog. Will be spreading the word!

Alison said...

Thank you for your kind words Alissa! And welcome!


Amy B. said...

Great photo! I'm gonna have to try making this one soon ;-) thanks for sharing and keep it up!

Laurie said...

I love asparagus and agree that it is meant to be roasted. I've made this as an appetizer with a lemon dip and that's a nice way to eat it too.

I'm still waiting for my farmers' market to open :(