Risotto is a brilliant way to show off every season’s vegetables, but this one featuring springs’ trendiest sprouts might just be my favorite. Asparagus and ramps provide a green, grassy, and pungent balance to risotto’s richness. Together they make a springtime dish that is decidedly decadent but is kept in check by the kind of earthiness that only comes out of the ground.
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 bunch ramps (about 10 ramps or ½ pound), roots trimmed, stalked thinly sliced, and leaves chopped
½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for finishing
5 cups homemade vegetable stock or 4 cups store-bought vegetable stock plus 1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 ½ cups Arborio rice or farro
½ cup dry white wine
1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears sliced crosswise into ¼-inch pieces, tips left intact
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for topping
2 to 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly grated lemon zest, for topping (optional)
Your best extra-virgin olive oil, for topping
Serves 5 to 6
- Combine the cream and sliced ramp stalks in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the ramps are soft and the cream has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. (This can be made a day in advance, cooled to room temperature, and refrigerated in an airtight container; warm through before using.)
- Bring the stock (or stock and water) to a simmer in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Turn it down as low as needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and season with the ½ teaspoon of salt and the ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Continue to stir and cook, coating the rice until it is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it evaporates.
- Use a ladle to add about 1 cup of the hot stock to the rice mixture and let it simmer, stirring often, until the stock is almost absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to add stock in this manner, about 1 cup at a time. With the last addition of stock, add the asparagus and cook, stirring until it is just tender and the rice is tender and creamy but slightly al dente, another 3 to 4 minutes. (This process can take up to 25 minutes total.) If you prefer a looser risotto, add up to 1 cup more stock or water and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed and the risotto reaches your desired consistency.
- Stir in the chopped ramp leaves and creamed ramps, and cook for another minute. Stir in the butter, cheese, and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and adjust the salt and lemon juice to taste. Serve in a large bowl or individual shallow bowls. Top with freshly ground black pepper, a dusting of cheese, a pinch of lemon zest (if you wish), and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil.
Don’t forget to check out the book!
About the Book:
Winner, IACP Cookbook Awards for Single Subject and People’s Choice.
The skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in this essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables. In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke. Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables.